~ 'Art ... makes us think :)

~ the creative process ~

~ art concepts / techniques ~

~ art makes us think ~

~ art topics A to Z ~

"It always seems impossible until it's done."
wiki ~ Nelson Mandela

Art in a nutshell. Imagine that, art in a nutshell. Pretty big nut I'd imagine :) This page is like a topical table of contents, an alphabetical index of sorts and hopefully a way for you to begin to find a way into our music theory (with a bit of history) story, and find and begin to create your own pathway and storyline on through.

Art, and our own pursuits of it, we often find a thing or two that really turns on us on. Since we're drawn to this thing, to a degree very often unlike anybody else, our art is shaped and recognizable by this single component. And while we'll evolve over the decades of our career, each new 'thing' that comes along as we evolve, becomes a core component of our statement.

When we look at recognized greatness in art, and compare multiple pieces of the same artist, we'll find these common threads. Often termed a 'period' of an artist's career / portfolio, they become our own natural trademarks, that started out as something that just really, caught our fancy, turned us right on, that we stuck with and developed and wove into our own art DNA. Stick with your art and these will come along. Develop your own way of shaping them and they'll become manifest in the works you create.

Discovery generates excitement, the curiosity to explore, energizes our creative process that produces works of art that capture our spirit and the intent of our statement. 'All our journeys, short, long, medium, all need a first step. Please take one, or two, or three now, thanks :)

So what does art do for you ... ?

wiki ~ Modern Art
"I get a kick out of insisting that people look deeper. If that's a hard time for you, ... then fix it."
wiki ~ Shirely MacLaine


"Imagination is more important than knowledge."
wiki ~ A. Einstein

In a nutshell, again. The topics and discussions on this 'art' page are really just an expanded glossary at heart. The difference is that instead of just defining and linking one word or idea, the entries are usually a weave of two or more ideas into a brief musical arts discussion. Art discussions will energize art expression and that my friend, is a very good thing. For any idea, even by its very own nature, must come from somewhere.

Writing about art. The style of writing in these discussions is more about the 'art' of things than the theory. Or, putting the theory into practice. So no real limits defined by the theory of the topic, wherever the discussion needs or wants to go ... it goes :)

So what is the energy of art? Capturing a thought we conjure up expressed in a tangible and transferable form? Musical art? A way to express the soul of our thought on its journey from beginning to end, expressed aurally through pitch, timbre and vibrations, all woven together and motored along through metered time?

In theory, creating the music we each love most can become a three dimensional model of elements; rhythm (s) in time, variability of pitch and their tuning schemes and sequencing, that totally human thing we all tend to do second nature to find a balance.

Conjure up, create and express something new. Simply the capture in a tangible form of a thought we conjure up? Ranging from the doodles in the sand to stick figure twisty animals in ancient caves to flat one dimensional representations to full on 3d sculptures, rocket ships into space that helps us travel to beyond the beyond? All of this wide spectrum contains the same simple application; that our creative thinking brings forth something new either from existing work or right out of the blue.

What is music? Music is something which lives outside the realm of the tangible arts yet conjures its own unique physical presence in the human motivating energies it creates. People hear a beat and begin to dance. That no human feeling is outside its expressive bounds shows us the universal expressive strengths it holds.

By our own physical actions we get to transfer our thoughts and ideas to recreate our ideas in sensations of sounds and rhythm. That we can synch up our thoughts with others in our band in real time and share with all who listen is surely a human bonding that goes way back in our communal histories.

What is our own music? Music is the expression of our thoughts in a medium which lives outside the realm of the tangible yet energizes 'to set in motion' what it conjures up. That in our curiosities in learning about music we look to strengthen our abilities to fine tune and express our ideas and experiences and make our music our own, as unique as each one of us truly are. We all share a common DNA yet we each are unique in our own ways, so the same with our own unique emotional, artistic and musical expressions.

wiki ~ DNA

Artistic concepts. The following topics are simply ideas about the musical arts. They range from intellectual theories about learning and how we learn to aspects of the musical arts that probably deserve whole chapters, and do get whole chapters, in other books. They are included together on this page to facilitate the writing in other sections of this work while also providing additional food for thought for the browsing, emerging modern guitarist, theorist and musician.


These topical discussions are all about conceptual ideas to consider as we hone our craft throughout our careers. Many entries suggest ways of viewing the musical resources we have, shaping a possible perspective of our music. Choose what works for you, consider the rest perhaps, for we never know where the next good idea might come from.

"There was no one near to confuse me, so I was forced to become original."

wiki ~ Joseph Haydn

Art ~ A modern artist. In this work, a modern artist / guitarist is defined as one who wants to potentially 'modernize' their own work by having an ability to draw new ideas from all of our Americana styles. Remember the old timey phrase to 'jazz it up' a bit?' If we can jazz it up, why not rock it up, or folk it up, or bluesify or bossify our ideas if it seems to create the right groove ? Or play a graceful lullaby full of love?

The reader here wants to know what musical elements make any style become that style. The basics are all involved, melody, chords, rhythms and forms, but how do they differ across our spectrum of styles? So we here as 'moderne essentials' look at each of these components and identify and label their properties, with just the basic numbers, all in relation to the style we find them.

Once we're numerically empowered, morphing between styles becomes a simple matter of adding in or taking out select pitches, to shape the core components of any style or genre within. And while there's no limits to the mix and match of the 12 pitches, there are longtime true and super solid historical relationships between numbers and style, think triads :) ... now everlong as the basis of our harmonies in each succeeding generations of our Americana artists and their musics.

For example, it is beyond 'hen's teeth rare' for a lullaby melody to have nine different pitches. Lullabys, songs for children, mostly have four or five pitches. Thus,

Easy to join right in, and sing right along.

Easy to rote learn and remember forevermore.

Melodies with nine different pitches are usually in the jazz realm. Yet, the jazz artist will find a lullaby melody and jazz it up with colortones. Likewise, a lullaby artist will hear and learn of a 'major 9th' chord, which belongs more toward the bossa and jazz side of our styles spectrum. And this might become the perfect 'closing' chordal color for one of their lullaby arrangements, the perfect 'close' for a special story hared.

So for the modern artist / guitarist, there's a potential for a fluid back and forth through our spectrum of styles. We can fully explore the way the same 12 core pitches are grouped and recombined in special ways to create this linear spectrum of styles. Once grasped, we develop the knowledge base to explore ever more, the music that we choose to hear with an 'ear' towards this 'borrowing' between styles.

We each then evolve our own ways by developing the ability to 'borrow' ideas we hear from other styles and shape them into what we dig to do with our music. Through understanding music, we want the artistic skill to let other musics 'influence' our own thing. Folk players might hear a jazz chord and say 'wow, I need that chord right in this spot.' Jazz players will find a folk melody and use its core to remake it into something more urban, while retaining its folk roots. Rockers hear something classical and say, 'I need that sort of eight bars to set the mood.' On and on really. Just looking to 'modernize' what we're already working on.

Once this entry process is initiated, based on a learner's existing knowledge, this start point quickly gives each reader a way into the progressions and evolutions of each of the topical discussions in this text. Along this pathway of learning we can gradually become better at recognizing common elements and their patterns in any art we might encounter, which can further generate ideas for our own explorations and evolutions.

That we intuitively recognize the sounds we each dig as we find them is the basis of this. And while there's a ton of influence coming into our ears, when we hear something we dig, we know it. Wanting to know 'what' that sound is why you're probably reading this here now. Total coolness for the curious, for near everything we hear that we dig and can identify in the theory, ties into the history and evolutions of our music.

As a modernizing artist / guitarist, as you work through the text, please remember that as you begin to skip links already taken because the terms are now familiar, you're learning the vocabulary of the theory. The vocabulary most often represents real musical sounds you dig. We modernize what we're doing by borrowing from other styles. The way its always been really.

That we have theory 'pioneers' to follow makes our work here so much easier. Dismantling the theory is truly the academic process, after the art is created, Along the way we get to explore what has come before helping to shape our own ideas and evolve the new. Nearly everyone has borrowed and learned from those whom have come before us. Those who do not generally need not. Most of us get to do the work to get there.

If there's any one thing I've learned about life and art, that helping to making art happen in whatever way I can becomes a pathway to enrich each and every day. So if nothing else, all through our lifetimes in the arts, we'll always find something to do and fun folks to do it with :)

make art happen
"The only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary."
wiki ~ Vincent Lombardi

A cool part of 'modern guitar' theory is that eventually it can give us a way into really any music we ever might hear. While listening, once we recognize a pattern or two, we've found a way into the music. It builds from there as newly discovered pieces fall in place. Each new piece a potential 'modernization' of the program. Motion to Four is the same in all styles, yet how we get there becomes the 'art' within each style. The ideas we hear and emulate as we go along collect into a catalogue of phrases, becoming the basis of our own music and musical conversations.

Tops in this modernizing process? Probably correlating letter name pitches with appropriate numerical positions within a chosen key. For in these numerical equivalents we can discuss; scale degrees, arpeggio degrees, color tones, blue notes, altered color tones, chord degrees, chord progressions and chord substitution in any of our 12 major or 12 minor keys. Imagine that :)

blue notes
color tones / alt
chord progressions
chord substitutions

Other modernizations. An important modernization for many is starting to think and play 'more through the changes than over them.' Here the linear parent scales give way to the vertical arpeggios. Which when added to improvised lines can quickly modernize our sound. Finding a gallop rhythm for each of our main styles to deepen the swing is a modernization for many. Simply being able to find and lock in on 2 and 4 and groove is for many a solid step up that opens news doors.

Learning musical forms is a way to modernize. Understanding the relationship of balance between melodic ideas in songs of different lengths of forms opens a vast vast vista of potentials for own own melodic phrasing. Developing our ability to count measures in various ways is another one of our numerical understanding evolutions. Combining form and melodic shapes is probably the whole ball of theory wax. Strengthening our sense of form also enables cats to 'stretch out', creating longer improvisations on the themes of their music in performance. Strengthening our understanding of form is a true modernizer for all.

More profound, intuitively energized self understandings of one's own art will often just organically evolve as the theory takes hold. Especially when encouraged in a collaborative environment. These often follow along the now age old process of borrowing lines from any musical style to add into one's existing ideas. This exploring and additive process can energize the creative basis for new works and pathways to explore.

So strive to know enough of the theory so as to allow an initial way into any of our Americana styles of music. What this gives us as we then we go on down the road is an unlimited resource for new ideas, thus ways to evolve our own music if we so choose. So depending on where we are artistically today and look to get to over time, a theory grounded foundation generates near endless pathways of exploration for understanding all of the various arts we dig.

Start in with a music lessons for guitar / bass. Included in this book is a blues guitar lesson for the modernizing, advancing guitarist.

Art ~ Accelerate the learning. In the educational theory of writing textbooks, this work is written so that each reader uses what they already know to navigate through the linked discussions. Links on the right of many paragraph entries are designed to do a couple of things. Vocabulary for sure, to related components that can advance the topic at hand.

Written in this text is ability to accelerate one's own learning by clicking through the hyper links of vocabulary words they already know. For there are pathways created by links in regards to the discussions we find them that connect to deeper insights of the topic's thread. Origin of topic links go to the glossary ( start page ). Glossary links often to the art page where the word is usually placed into performance or historical context. From here, if there's a whole page for the idea / word, that will generally be the next link forward. Most pathways end up at V7 and its tritone within. From there we go to chord substitutions, improv, composing and points beyond; polytonality and #15. This forward motion of thinking is thanks to the looping nature of our musical architectures, we know that all roads eventually lead to the same few Americana musical complexity centers, that stylistically are mostly on the jazz end of our style spectrum. Discussions such as finding the blue notes and the moving towards chromaticism in diatonic musics, the near endless V7 substitutions etc., of blues and jazz, the #15 of the symmetrical arpeggios, are common EMG endpoints to these hyperlinked pathways.

Way forward links. When a reader already knows the topic under discussion and needs a new way forward in the theory. These 'forward' links are often written just that way; 'a way forward' or 'building on this idea', 'imagine that' are a few. The progression of the theory is most often directed by simply adding new pitches to existing groups. As we expand the pitch resource we've more combinations. These new combinations often translate into expanding musical style.

So simply more pitches in our chords or melody? Towards jazz. Less pitches on down to our core five? Then towards our Americana blues and folk. Numerically more clicks in our tempos? Deeper rhythm subdivisions into the measures? Ideas like 4/4 into 12/8 and beyond? Eighth notes? Towards jazz. Less clicks, subdivisions and towards half and whole notes? Towards the folk end of the spectrum.

Art ~ Adding the 7th. Adding a 7th to a triad is probably at or near the top of the 'super theory game changer' list of theory ideas that are paradigm shifters for the evolving Americana artist and guitarist. For in this one additional pitch to our triads we advance our first move along our musical styles spectrum. Think of musical styles where there simply are no 7th's added to the triads. Children's songs and a wide swath of the folk musics. And this would include anything globally that is 'roots' music; here theory defined as music whose are harmonies created solely from triads.

For once the 7th comes into play, our tonal center and its gravity begins the softening process and we open up 'suggestions' for the music to go beyond its diatonic borders as we create our art. We have the flip side of this of course; music whose diatonic center holds true regardless. Lest we forget the power of a V7 chord to return us to our original tonic pitch of any song.

Once the 7th is added to our triads we energize the blues and jazz Americana qualities that easily mix anywhere into the Americana fabric of musics. To 'jazz it up' as folks used to say. The ideas and theory principles of chord type, chord function and the entire topic of chord substitution manifests with adding a 7th to a triad and really for most player / theorists, that's plenty. Not only does our root motion thus story lines evolve, we open up the other color tones. Once comfortable through the full arpeggio we can symmetricalize our intervals and blast off to #15 and then beyond to create the evolved tritone pairing of the Lydian / Dorian splice, that when presented at a 432 Hz. tuning pitch level basis, should turn our whole thing around to a more loving, caring and sharing universe. So often described in the endless verse we've created over the millennia, and as some will probably create today, and of course all of the readily available books ready to be read :)

Art ~ 'Add 2.' ( 'add 2' might be something else in other systems, here it is about being a sentient, music theory empowered being :) Into the waybac we go to find the author at a theory seminar with a jazz piano player at our local college. A young Lass wants to know what a particular chord is called. The Lady plays the chord, the piano player finds the pitches, goes into this beyond long winded explanation. Finally ends.

The Lady says' ... will I just call it my 'add 2' chord. Piano player; no such thing in the theory. The Lady; well it's my favorite chord. Piano player. Sorry, but no such chord as an 'add 2.' ... so it's a what ____ ?

So call it whatever you want please, for in any of this labeling process there's always going to be another way to 'correctly' identify the puzzle pieces we come up with. While some 'theory labels' have to be exact to get the idea across, such as major or minor, in other areas of identifying the colors, just let it all ride.

So 'add 2' turns out to be some sort of open 'D' major chord with the middle finger left off. Imagine that :)

Art ~ advanced readers. For those that are reading here that already have the basics of understanding their music rote learned; know of the 12 relative keys and the diatonic realm, can arpeggiate and spell any chord in any key, know of the blue notes, their tuning and the rub they create over V7 harmony, who understands about finding parent scales, can hear the 'top' of our common musical forms, and knows their way through a diatonic Two / Five / One cadential motion, there's a couple of discussions linked here that are deemed 'advanced' in relation to these combined basics, a next ring up or next valence of the energy. 'Advanced' is determined by tonal gravity and the aural predictability of the music. For as the advanced techniques come into play, both gravity and its strengths are swept away, enabling the artist with a wider lattitude of what happens when and where.

Still advancing to advanced status? Here are the above topics for review. Clicks to the right journey us to the land of evolutions and advancements.

Art ~ Advance the challenge. This seems to be a way of artists throughout all of the styles through all of history. The 'what if' questions that require a new way forward bringing a greater challenge to the artist to complete the piece. Age old and hopefully something that will never go away.

So ... 'bored with your own playing?' Need something new to explore? U b not alone amigo, we all struggle to advance. In any style learn a new song

With folk styles explore an open tuning.

With the blues try an open 'G' tuning with a slide. Or add in a new chord or two to the 12 bar blues with chord substitutions.

With country add in the 6th to your chords and swing.

In pop music, work through the 'diatonic 3 and 3' theory, the blues elevator and start on the 'butter' scale shape.

In jazz guitar, go through the five diatonic scale shapes in 12 keys in localized position. For chords, run the Two / Five / One chords through 12 keys in localized positions.

Have all this under your fingers ? Cool. Consider exploring the #15 arpeggio, working through chord substitutions and adding more chromaticism into your single note lines and learn new songs or compose some of your own.

Explore the additional links / vocabulary included from those points forward i.e., read the next entry too.

R O !

Art ~ Advance the learning. 'Advance the learning' is an 'e text' feature whereby an author can project directions where the theory can and will go, then provide the links to these next topics in the spirit of the evolution of the style / pitch intellectual dynamic that often centers these types of books. So on many pages within there's a suggestion or two for advancing the discussion on that page. The links included here are a few 'advance the learning' starters.

So if you're already hip to the topic, there's 'advance the learning' suggestions for ways forward to related topics, advancing the current discussions. Format wise, the links to the right in any paragraph are these 'advances.' So cats can click ahead in a discussion to new learning challenges of that topic. The oft included quip used of 'those in the know will know', is a sort of hidden hint of text that something is afoot nearby in the theory evolution, and its click is probably right at hand.

So I've been doin' this for a while now and over the decades I've heard players who are true serious about their thing say stuff like ... ; 'man I need something new', 'even just one new idea a week', 'really bored with my playing', 'man I sound like doo doo today.'

Regardless of how we phrase it, creating art everyday and the boredom with the effort just seem to go together sometimes and is a very natural cycle. Artists of all stripes can shed their boredom away. One solution is to simply create ways to up our own game. Endless possibilities for those so inclined. The theory itself becomes a ring of keys to unlock doors to explore.

And the cool thing is once we choose a thing to 'advance' on any given day, once engaged the boredom often will soon vanish, poof, gone ... Stick with the 'advance' process and over time we can get better and better at what we want to do. Performing your music these days? Have a warm up routine yet? Here's one.

Totally advance the learning ~ shedding the whole tamale. Ready to 'advance' for the foreseeable future your listing of things to practice? Jazz saxophonist John Coltrane throws down the gauntlet here for us as career minded, mostly leaning jazz cats or anyone crazy enough I guess, to think about what it takes to not only exhaust, develop and evolve their own musical resources, but to compose and create representatively meaningful and lasting musical art, of this whole tonal transitional process along the way.

And while there are so many additional great players who have done this, Trane is historically recognized as the artist that completed the Americana musical journey from totally inside diatonic to totally outside 12 tone art while never losing the blues anywhere along this array of musics and thus becomes the model of musical evolution for this book. By having today the songs that Mr. Coltrane's wrote, with a ballpark historical order created by their recording and release on audio records, we have a pathway for the evolution of Americana tonality from tonal to atonal, diatonic and blues based art on through to 12 tone abstract. For jazz artists, the 'anything from anywhere' through the 12 relative major and minor keys really becomes the shedding that creates the whole tamale. For once the basic theory is in place, it comes down to shedding to get the resource under our fingers. Then there's the musical time considerations, so ... around and around it'll go.

R O !)

"Blues is the roots, everything else is the fruits."
wiki ~ Howlin' Wolf

Art ~ All musics. There's a couple of 'alls' that help get our arms completely around our resources.

One 'all' is that the perfect octave interval is the basis for all musics. For while there's various tunings created by various cultures throughout history and spanning all of Earth, we can usually locate the octave interval as their bedrock basis of organization of musical pitches in all. We Americana theorists reading here can simplify things a bit by recognizing these two halves of the global music pie.

What we Americana Westerners often term as the 'Eastern musics', the musics of the Asia and India areas, is built upon the same octave interval rock as our own 'Western' Americana sounds. So the octave interval holds all the pitches globally? Yep.

Yet, East and West each sound unique in their ways of pitches and rhythms yes? Sure do. The difference? Simply that in our Western musics, we divide the octave into 12 equal parts through equal temper tuning. In doing so we enable nicely tuned up stacks of pitches we know as chords.

In the Eastern musics, the division of the octave goes well beyond 12 pitches, up to 24 or perhaps even more depending on the locale and the cats who live there. So are chords possible with 24 pitches? Probably, but that's a lot of pitches to tune up consistently and organize. Their solutions? Everyone plays the melody all the time :) Like our Americana dixieland? Exactly. While each of the melodies use their own chosen pitches from the 24, they all consistently portray the same storyline as defined by the song they've chosen to play.

Knowing this, we here in the West easily move beyond just our 12 'set in stone' pitches of the octave interval with our 'blue' notes. Ah ... yes the blue notes.

For ... 7 + 5 = 12 yes?

And does each of our 12 pitches have a 'blue hue' magical version of its pitch to nuance our ideas? In this book they sure do. So even in natural, ancient and rock solid theory, East meets West, all within Mother nature's own perfection of the octave interval :)

All music was once new. This is just a true statement that can mean mucho to cats who compose. That wherever we venture through historical time and geographical location, whatever music we might ever hear, it all was at one time the 'new' riff, ditty, song, composition, style, trend or defining a historical epoch. So be bold and confident in expression all sisters and brothers, just go on and 'tell it like it is ... ' :)

wiki ~ Western musics
wiki ~ Eastern musics
wiki ~ Mother Nature
wiki ~ Karl Haas
wiki ~ 'Tell It Like It Is' song

Art ~ All V7 and beyond. Always good to remember that Americana musics has always had a genre whose harmony and chord progresions are exclusively comprised by the V7 type chords. We've the blues of course, which even today continues to represent this unique harmonic style of composition.

Our Americana jazz harmony of today has evolved to where players will make every chord in a song or progression a V7 chord type. This creates a sort of seamless, often bluesy and decidedly chromatic sound to the music.

For when there's a few voices involved; say guitar, bass, piano, drums, a horn or two and everyone's wailing away thinking along these lines, all the pitches combine to create this seamless 'chromatic buzz' that rides along on the groove. Here's Pythagoras, and from his look, probably thinking from the root to keep track of things, while the chromatic sounding pitches scoot on by ... :)

Art ~ Alternating bass. One / Five / One. This usually describes a guitar technique that finds us using one chord shape whose root pitch is on the 5th string. Coolness built right in as its fifth is located right below, same fret, on the 6th string. There's a solid handful of these combos and they form a nice core for performing in the folk, blues and bossa nova styles.

wiki ~ bossa nova

Art ~ Americana. As broad a topical heading we might ever find for our musics, what theory constitutes, creates and validates Americana in our music is quite simple really. Two sets of the same pitches where one set is precisely tuned and the art of improvisation. For as soon as we pair equal tempered tuned pitches to create chords with blue notes from a slide guitar, that's the core Americana spice. From this slight variance of tuning pitches and then rubbing them together all else flows and follows.

Art ~ An idea. So just how much of what we do as people starts with an idea? Just about everything right? Any different for creating art? Nope. Often through the simple necessity to express ourselves, the artist captures an idea in such a way so that it can be understood, shared and enjoyed by those who choose to experience it. If there's a universality to the idea, a special quality to it that helps all of us identify and unify with it, then all the better.

wiki ~ creativity

As musicians, what makes up this 'captured idea' is really limitless. One pitch and a rhythm loop will do it. Two pitches, an interval and a rhythm can be enough. Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. Maybe a word or two? "The Truth Is." Or even just a vision, perception or feeling we get from without that vibrates us within.

wiki ~ Beethoven's Fifth

Of something from our everyday lives to inspire us to create; of love, beauty, joy, a sadness or a true story of our doings. All continually generate those true universal sparks to explore and develop.

So just a real good chance that these works were sparked to life by one idea, that came to these artists to initiate the process of creating and composing. Then the work begins. And this is where the theory looms large. For in developing an idea into a full work, there's those 'tricks of the trade' composers have to help form up an idea to its completion. Tricks are often disguised as music theory. Imagine that :)


In Essentials there's really just two theory tricks. One is that composing, which includes both writing it out and improvisation, becomes a puzzle. The second is that our music theory and its silent architecture systems are created by a series of filters and layered together.

The concept of a puzzle is pretty straightforward. A full on Beethoven symphony puzzle probably has a 1000 pieces or so. A 12 bar blues puzzle maybe just two or three. Each can be inspired by just two or three pitches, each present their own unique challenges of form and balance. In finding the other pieces that fit around our original idea and puzzling it all into place, we then usually know when a work is done.

The idea of the architectural systems and 'filtering' is simply about the hierarchy of the theory created by the number of pitches we each use in imagining and creating the music we each love to play. Our own inner music if you will. Theory architecture encourages us to correlate musical style with number of pitches.

Each of the core components of a song: its story, melody, chords, rhythms and form each in themselves have this sort of numerical build process. Each additional piece along their evolutions creating a new filter of sorts. We simply try our original idea through the filters and see how it shapes the puzzle piece we are searching for. Career development along these lines is why many dig the theory.


Sound academic? Cool, it's supposed to be because theory is academic. As long as we stay true to the original idea we had, make all the parts sing-able for the players involved and tell a story, our collective histories remind us that even musical puzzles of a 1000 pieces or more, if each piece is lovingly crafted to puzzle together perfectly, there's no bounds to the evolutions of our own craftsmanship.

Art ~ Anatomy, architectural elements. We've such a solid start point, in our silent architecture, that it's a shame to not simply list its elements. For while our core structure is Mother Nature's, our present day number of building materials kinda goes beyond measure. And each 'piece' of musical art we create ... it might just have some new coolness we discovered over there. Where ? There :)

Regardless, architectural elements can include everything right? So, time, pitches, groups, loops, sequences, chords, rhythms, and every concievable gadget magic, and in this era, electronic gadget magic, ever invented that when sounded and heard by someone, encourages their participation and chiming in with their vision of what that sound (s) mean to them.

Art ~ Arms around the resource. This is just an intellectual idea that in theory we've only 12 pitches to work with. Once they are rote learned we've got our arms around them, they form a loop and we begin to fill things in with a more organized manner.

Art ~ Arranger. As the word implies, an arranger 'arranges' the music to be performed with the musicians involved in the production. So depending on lots of factors, arrangers need all sorts of knowledge many of us musicians don't really ever get to. Such as, what's the range of the viola? Can a timpani drum be tuned to the pitches of a triad? What's the top note range of a tuba? On and on ... all depending on what'sneeded, by whom with this instrumentation. Many composers arrange also, just a natural fit for their degree of curiosity and finding the right puzzle piece to bring music to life.

Art ~ Arpeggio studies. We initially get away with the smallest of entries here for potentially the largest and most potent of our powers in creating our musical resources. For the arpeggio is the middle between scale and chord and as such have the power to create the 'sheets of sound.' The idea of outlining the chords of a song with arpeggios to create a beautiful melody in jazz was first introduced by Coleman Hawkins in 1939, then passed on through to Charlie Parker and John Coltrane, who's arpeggiating approach which coins the term we know today.

So ... any chord at anytime, can be presented anywhere, in any style, by correctly sounding out the pitches of its arpeggio? Yep. :)

Art ~ As your time permits.

Art ~ Artistic balance. This idea of artistic balance is like 'beauty is in the eye of the beholder." I think. A challenge to put into words mostly, artistic balance in music is even more slippery as tangible and visual become aural. Coolness prevails here in that we each get to visualize our own version. So artistic balance in a song, or music in general, might be depicted by a hanging mobile, where seemingly disparate sized pieces make a whole piece of art that floats in the air.

wiki ~ mobile sculptures

Art ~ Artistic filters; melodic, harmonic and rhythmic. This idea is an intellectual idea that becomes a musical exercise. We simply take one idea and 'filter' it through a pattern to create new combinations. For example, we can filter major triads through a whole tone scale. Or filter a rhythm sequence through the chords and form of the 12 bar blues. Lyricists will filter their idea through word combinations. Jazz players will permutate one melodic idea through various sounding filters, i.e., major, minor, augmented and diminished, a song's form etc.

Art ~ Artistic signature ...'it all comes out on a ballad.' Know anybody else who signs their name like you do? Know anyone else who speaks and laughs like you? Plays the same melodic turns and twists? No? So each of us is unique in so many positive ways yes? To sing with our own voices a joyous phrase and play that line and speak that joy through our chosen instrument. That's cool and surely satisfies the expressive nature of our need to make art. .

For emerging improvising musicians, the concept of artistic signature is to a certain degree initially founded in the exciting ability to sing the line, play the line. As each of us is unique in our own ways, so may our musical creations and own personal sound project our uniqueness. That it 'all comes out on a ballad', one's own artistic signature, is first that we've finally slowed way down, and now have time to think a bit, feel and bring it.

This basis of sing the line / play the line is contingent on having something to say I guess and as with verbal language, is partially based on one's internalized vocabulary of words. Same principles apply to the music? Yep. So how do we build up our musical vocabulary to have something to say?

Well, potentially lots of ways. In all of the art forms, the study of the recognized masters and their careers is potentially a large part of the development process of the emerging talent. This knowledge of the historical development of a musical style and its creators, coupled with the new ideas from our own searching and experiences, helps to gradually shape our own artistic voice and in doing so, we each help to continue and pass along this historical process. So, have so many of the great artists we love studied the work of the great artists before them, and those artists studied with those before them, and back and back and back in history to go forward, forward, forward in time?

Listening to music is often the essential part of this process, while knowledge of music theory can help organize and internalize the sounds we hear. The aural, theoretically interpretive ability of sing the line, play the line can provide an inexhaustible source for new artistic ideas. Combining this simple idea of 'sing and play' with a gradually expanding understanding of the theoretical structure of our music system, we set in motion a proven program of study to initiate the development our own artistic signatures. Adding our signature to the ledger of the music history includes us in the collective energy to bring forth and share the joy, sorrows and challenges of the world we live in, past, present and the future.

Each of the broad categories of our Americana music styles can to a certain degree shape a players concept and sound to fall into certain historical parameters. This is in a sense a recognition and respect for the historical tradition of a particular style of music and the players who have created and developed that style over the decades. While listening to music, we can often identify our musical hero's by simply hearing a few notes of their music. This identification of the artist by their sound is the aural recognition of a player's artistic signature.

The idea to consider here is how each of us can use the strengths we are given and develop to create our own unique signature. This is hopefully an ever evolving process of searching, whereby our artistic statement and signature evolves and matures as we ourselves evolve and mature, as artists and human beings, as we channel the universal energy and share our discoveries in music with those who join around us. 

So, is the concept of artistic signature important for everyone? Nope, but searching for and solidifying one's artistic identity can be a healthy endeavor, regardless of one's aspirations artistically or professionally. Just knowing of the concept oftentimes helps to validate an artistic direction we might choose to go. And although we might not really know what might develop from our labors, perhaps it is the lessons learned through searching that help shape our being. Artistic signature, and the search for each of us to capture our own, becomes an integral part in the continued collective growth and development of the various styles of Americana music. Seek and ye shall find eh?

How or is the need to express ourselves simply part of our core sentient being as an evolved animal type unit on a hurtling, through endless space on this rock of a planet? Just something to Google for the DNA curious?

wiki ~ DNA

Why? To convey the joy and compassion of our hearts through the music we play? To tell our stories with the sounds of music we shape and create? Just sing and play which gets us out of that other sense of daily time that we measure on a wristwatch? Beginning to sound a bit like mantra question time all without answers? 

Will aspiring to solve for ourselves these understandings and goals shape our own unique artistic signatures? Do you have a favorite musical artist? Can you recognize their sound wherever or whenever you hear it? Yes? Well, that's how their artistic signature sounds yes?

The greatest discovery of my generation is that you can change your circumstances by changing your attitudes of mind. 

wiki ~ William James

Art ~ ASAP ~ rote learn some essentials. Part pun, as if there is an need for anything 'asap' in understanding our music / music theory :) But let's say the phone rings and you got the music gig you wanted, whatever it is. And now are feeling a bit unprepared to hang in this gig in regards to understand your own music and music in general. Ya want to do a quick study to prepare.

So these topics are true rote essential ideas, components and evolutions of our musics. 'I wish I knew'd that back when I first started.' We each probably have a few of those I'd imagine :) I know I did, would have simplified a few matters. So the few topics in this entry are just those sort of things; theory ideas and components that help create theory skills right now; asap, fill in the rest as you go along. Rote learning wins the day, every day.

Art ~ Aural predictability and the zero wiggle. This idea is about playing with a listeners expectations as we create our musics. We can sound like we are going to go there (resolve) and go there, or hint that we might go there and then not go there, or even go somewhere else then go back there later and resolve, usually ... :)

Or the flip side of zero wiggle, as when we're the bass player, and there's this big build up to one pitch. A build up of predictability that tells everyone within listening distance ... that the music is going to arrive to this and only this 'one note destination station', and if all the stars align, it'll be on time :)

So children's songs usually go right there to where it sounds like it is going, thus clearly predictable for most musicians. 12 bar blues is predictable yet with endless variation of time, tone and timbre to get us there. In pop through country, with hooks and such, just depending on how the story gets told is usually just how the song goes. So depending on how predictable the story line is, determines the predictability of its music. Remember what the 'Boss' said about a good show ... 'make folks feel welcome and surprise them somehow.'

So in jazz? Jazz by its very nature sounds less predictable. We tend to fill in the spaces between the principle points in songs, or find unique ways to get there, that just are less obvious sounding out our tonal directions.

In the more modern sounding genres of jazz, the music is in theory simply more chromatic, and as we add pitches to our diatonic seven, what we gain to create with the added pitches evolves the aural predictability of the music. While form in music, sequences, and rhythm patterns all help in creating a sense of direction, the predictability of the basic tension / release dynamic of our musics.

Art ~ Back / middle / front of the beat. Simply a realization that in our phrasing of musical ideas, we can find different spots on the beat, each of which can effect the artistic and emotional statement of the line. 'Out in front' finds the rhythm section playing a sort of catch up, call and response with the lead line and can be a great way to tell a story. Ray Charles' version of the classic "Georgia On My Mind" comes to mind. Rolling right down the middle of the thing are the American arpeggio kings Coleman Hawkins, Charlie Parker and John Coltrane. No question about the time strength and integrity of 'where it is.' Phrasing behind the beat, a bit or a whole lot, is probably most common over the spectrum. Jazz wise Dexter Gordon might be the king of back of the beat in telling his tales.

An easy way to feel these spots in time is to work with a metronome. getting the clicks on 2 and 4 and singing along with the clicks, finding the various 'spots' of where the pitches and rhythms lay into the time.

wiki ~ Ray Charles
wiki ~ Charlie Parker
wiki ~ John Coltrane
wiki ~ Dexter Gordon

Art ~ Backing a soloist / poet. This is a performance consideration and really comes down to one thing. To not distract them from what they are doing while they are doing it. If this means not playing at all (tacit) so be it. Also to be sure to watch the volume of the parts. Getting 'under' the soloist's volume is important and not always easy. Stepping all over the soloist is an easy way to lose the gig. Shedding will take care of the rest of what we need to play. Ask the soloist what they dig and think of trying to do that. Communication, if there's time, is usually always a good place to start if nothing else.

Even a great soloist needs a nudge from time to time. As 'call and response' and 'theme and variations' core the Americana dialogue, it only takes one idea to begin the process among players. In the backing part of this, once the new idea is manifest, the solo cat is still soloing and as such, still needs the space and our support to succeed.

Backing a poet.

At the turnaround of the form is oftentimes where the backing part can get dicey. Do we lay off and give the soloist the room to decide ... or as backing cats, help to drive it all home like a big dog to ensure another chorus go-around of the form of the song being performed? Talking with everyone at rehearsal, on the break and close of the performance about these spots surely helps in creating fun and exciting music for the players and dancers alike :) Just try remember that in improvised musics, when we get under the stage lights things often change from what was discussed. That getting under the soloist in terms of volume is usually makes for a good start.

Backing a poet.

soloist needs a nudge from time to time. As 'call and response' and 'theme and variations' core the Americana dialogue, it only takes one idea to begin the process among players. In the backing part of this, once the new idea is manifest, the solo cat is still soloing and as such, still needs the space and our support to succeed.

Art ~ Banish the boredom. Creating art everyday and the boredom with the effort seem to go together sometimes. Cats shed their boredom away. One solution is to simply create ways to up our own game. Endless possibilities for those so inclined. And the cool thing is once we choose a thing to 'advance' on any given day, once engaged, the boredom often will vanish, poof, gone ... Stick with the 'advance' process and over time we get better and better at what we want to do.

Art ~ Bass line stories / root notes / chord progressions. This idea comes to us here directly from AmerAfroEuro master maestro Mr. Clarke Terry. In this idea, Terry teaches us that each song's bass line carries its message. And that song's with similar messages, will have similar bass lines. Sad songs will have similar bass lines. Joyous stories will have similar pitches in their lines. Passion? Humorous? Similar sorts of pitches and lines. Add style to the mix, and a tempo, and the core stories evolve.

The benefit? Mostly in the 'merging' of similar songs. And in understanding this, how we can borrow ideas from one song to be added to another. Or, in originating our own ideas into stories and songs, when we need a 'spark' for a part, we draw from the standards we know.

As a 'novice know it all', one time I got to listen to a favorite recording of super high art improvised jazz with a schoolmate cat who knew well over a 100 tunes. And as we listened to the combined music of these masters, , listedned to a famous

To create a bass line story for a song, there's just the two parts, the theory and the art. The theory is just to sound out the root notes of the chords of their chord progression. So no passing tones or arpeggios etc. Sounds like this. Example bls1.

The individual art part is to bring the story to life by getting it going, getting the show on the road by moving the pitches along in musical time. So we find a rhythm for the root pitches and spark it to life. Example bls2.


be the motor

Cool ? .




Quick review / bass line stories. So, simply the idea that the bass line of a song that supports the melodies and moves along by the written roots of the chords, tells us the story of the song. These 'stories' can then fall into just a couple of 'categories.' The blues is surely one such category. Others? Not really sure but for ballads, rhythm changes and both 32 bar song forms might have a similar storyline.

That composers enjoy and study the work of the works of other writers is also a part of this bass line story. Songs such as "Summertime" by the Gershwin Brothers is an Americana classic that has been loved by so many and has probably spawned many a new song from admiring artists. Included in this work is my own inspiration that probably has some roots in "Summertime." Titled "Voices From The River", there's just a commonality of essence from one to the other.

Knowing of this might help us group similar songs to facilitate their learning and encourage the cross pollination between similar storylines. That most guitarists play some bass and vice versa is a possible way to cross pollinate this process.

So thanks in part to the uniqueness of each of us and peeps and artists, there's endless variations to the basic forms and ideas of a bass line story. The gist of this I think is to simply recognize that they do indeed exist and that in that recognition, we get a way in to music we might be unfamiliar with at first hearing, in a jam session etc. Thus we just might get a better shot of making sense of new music if we can hear its bass story line.

Art ~ Become an expert. No reason in the world not to become an expert at something. If we figure out what we love to do and become an expert at it, our chosen work becomes a pleasure and we show up every day ready and raring' to go :) All professions have experts and as in all the disciplines, music experts have potentially a couple of lifetime's worth of scholarly explorations available to those so impassioned. Humble readers will know this ... 'the more I know the less I think I know.'

Art ~ Be the motor. Pretty self explanatory really, in that when we play music with others we want to help propel the thing along, keep it moving, lively danceable and more ...' Tough when we gots to pull others along, which if ya gotta do, you gotta do.' By doing so, hopefully there'll be someone to pull us along when that time arises. Other wise we strive to pull our own weight, be the motor. As Jerry Garcia once quipped in song ...

"I don't know who's back's that strong ... maybe find out before too long ... " :)

In all the styles in our Americana music history there's cats on all the instruments that love to be motor; drive the groove till the dancers shout and jump for joy, round and round. Drums is the thunder. Bass brings the voodoo. Lead players 'bring it' and tell the stories. All combine to create the music, which bring folks together to create our community of sharing together something we all can dig and be a part of together.

wiki ~ Jerry Garcia
wiki ~ Robert Hunter

Art ~ Big four. This term comes here via the Ken Burns 'Jazz' series and is spoken by maestro Wynton Marsalis in episode one. It might originally come from the marching band drummers that create the beat for the parades in New Orleans. The even 'boom boom boom boom' of the bass drums keeps everyone marching right along. The booms create the quarter note pulse of one measure of 4/4 time. While any of the four beats will find their accents, popping on 2 and 4 is most common (snare drum) throughout the spectrum of Americana musics. This pop on 2 and 4, is what can quickly bring on the swing thing for most artists in any style really. Paired with the snare pops, almost any sort of a 'walking' bass line is probably an example of the 'big four' but with pitches.

wiki ~ Ken Burns 'Jazz'
wiki ~ Wynton Marsalis

Art ~ reading biographies. Those into music love to hear about other musical artists. Just a natural thing. Serious cats here will also dig the educational aspects of reading about the artists they dig. Everything from the historical life and times of an era to the #1 hits of the day, to the gear to get those sounds to the story behind the hooks, of how they got there and hopefully back, or not as the case may be ... and still out on the road :)

By far and away for this Jose, the Ken Burns "Jazz" documentary is a must, it connects all of the early dots and shows the ways we've moved forward ever since.

wiki ~ Americana musics
wiki ~ Ken Burns 'Jazz'
wiki ~ American music composers
wiki ~ European music composers

Art ~ Blues' hue / color ~ blue notes for 'C' major. Adding in some of the 'blues hue' color is simply about adding in a pinch of a non-diatonic blue note into diatonic lines. For in every nook and cranny of possible genres of Americana music there's usually a way to tastefully wiggle in some blues hue. That most of our Americana music over the last century or so is generated diatonically from the relative major scale group of pitches yet there's always room for the blues hue; created by the blue notes, the five pitches of the 12 not used in the seven to build up a proper major scale. For even the stingiest of efforts in any sort of song we can spark a blue note or two.

Art ~ Blues guitar. Not being a real blues player there's very little I can offer here. And with all the real deal cats to hang with however one can these days there's really no need too here. That said, here's three essential licks for the emerging blues artist in 'C' major.

"Muddy Waters walkdown."

"Elmore James intro."

"Socking beat one in the 10th bar of the turnaround." Heard too many great recordings of blues soloists not to to mention this lick. Simply that by totally stinging the root pitch right on the top of the beat of the key on the first beat of the 10th bar of the 12 bar blues form, whatever happens after, or not as the lick might be, the rest of the band should know exactly where to go with it to find the downbeat on one of the next chorus. Here's a 12 bar 'A' blues, stinging the pitch 'A' on beat one, bar 10. I use the muddy walkdown to close the form and get into the next chorus.

Art ~ Blues' in A. This is a common way that players 'call' a tune when performing especially in jam sessions or cats sitting in with the band etc., so mostly unrehearsed situations. And while it sounds simple enough, there's quite a bit of musicality involved, much of which is just 'understood' by the musicians involved; of course the root pitch is A, it's in a blues styled major key, the three principle chords are A7, D7 and E7 and it's probably a 12 bar blues form. The rest you'll just have to hear and find your way in. A 'muddy' lick of sorts will often kick it off and could be part of the turnaround too. The time, tempo and feel of it is often described in terms such as; a shuffle, swing, rockin', swampy etc. How the leader counts it off is often the best clue; 1234 with accents on 2 and 4 for any kind of swing feel, 123 - 456 spoken as triplets for the 12/8 of a shuffle etc. Listening to the records is most often the preparation for strengthening these combined skills.

Art ~ Blues Societies / Americana. Join up with like minded artists globally with ...


Art ~ Blues rub. The idea of a blues rub is all about how the blue minor third melody note sits on top of the major third that lives within the major triad which forms the basis of V7, the basic blues chordal color we use to support our blues lines, thus: minor 3rd in melody + major third in chord = blues 'rub.'

Art ~ Body dance. My slang term that describes ANY signs that the rhythm joy of the music is having a physical effect on folks hearing the music being created. Wide range here; from full on jump for joy dancing to the age old toe tapping to finger taps to the gentlest of cerebral nods ... a body must and will somehow find the dance :) Is this why so many love the blues? Could very well be. And surely it is the magic of swing is insatiable.

wiki ~ dance

Art ~ Borrowing pitches. For the music theorist to sort things out, ideally all lives within a diatonic world; meaning that everything we need to create our music comes from the pitches of a key center. And while this is often true in children's songs and folk music, even the first mention of a blue note in the music usually means we're borrowing a pitch from outside our diatonic key center. Problem with this? No, not at all. We as theorists just generally want to know where its coming from, i.e., its organic or diatonic source :) Once known we can recreate the coolness when needed.

What does the borrowed pitch do for us? Back in the day there was an expression to 'jazz it up' to give a thing a bit of something new, something exciting, something different. From a dash of salt for a stew to a new color for a different cut of cloth for a coat to a new dance step to using a C# in the key of C major to find V7 of ii, we often look to 'jazz a thing up a bit' to freshen up what might have become the mundane.

We all look to do it in our lives, as musical artists and now music theorists, we simply look to understand the why of the 'jazzing up' so to speak. In doing so, creative new ideas for how to jazz something up are energized, and begins the whole process anew.

The theory. Once we realize that a pitch we come across is not diatonic to the song we're working on, we can investigate what it is adding to the music we are making. Is it just one non diatonic pitch in a melody line? Probably a blue note or passing tone. Is it a non diatonic pitch in a chord and progression? What key is that chord diatonic too? Can we look at that key for ideas or resources to better understand and create solutions for voicings, find a parent scale for soloing over or through the chord? These sorts of investigative tools are what the theory cats use to find new ways to solve the same old same old. Is part of an artist always looking for something new, a new combination of elements to better express their ideas and emotional statement? Could be.

The evolution of our Americana musics over the last 100 years find many of our legends also as the exploratory visionaries of their day, that looked to push the existing boundaries of their art worlds. Does this happen in just music? No. All the fine arts have their visionaries and an evolution to the theory of the principles of their artform. It's just a natural process as new generations of folks come along, learn the existing body of knowledge in their times and create anew. For example, can you visualize when painted pictures were two dimensional?

Art ~ Bowl of gumption. Not sure where this comes from as it been around for so long now. But at some point some boss somewhere said to a crew member 'better get a bigger bowl of gumption in the AM if you want to keep work with this crew.' Cool. Gumption. Good. I thought oh ... like oats for the horses. Gumption is our inner voice that says 'I got this.' Gumption is also very sticky stuff, makes us stick to it, see it all through and finish strong.

"The lesson being that in life, you control what you can."
wiki ~ Michelle Obama

Art ~ Break the rules. Established rules in music tend to create a particular sound and style of music, often of a distinct historical period. For example, if we follow the part writing rules of 17th century counterpoint we'll probably sound a bit baroque and hopefully a bit like Bach. 'Learn the rules first then break them' as your music demands. Rules also create real forms which gets us all collectively on the same page, right now. So things just go along quicker and when the 'breaks' do occur in the art being created, it's really no big deal. It's more of an evolution from an existing form or style than something out of the blue. Is there really anything out of the blue in music anymore?

wiki ~ J.S.Bach

Art ~ Bring it (slang). Just really a slang term to capture the extra energy juice we each can bring to what's at hand and needing to be done. In blues mostly but all of our Americana styles too. As today we can find the blues pert near everywhere in Americana musics, that when performing our stories for an audience of folks, there's an extra energy possible to be channeled, theirs, back to the musicians, to really make a memorable moment for all. We can make and store up extra juice for later by being more confident and competent in what we're doing. Similar licks?

"Just do it!" Yep. "Time to testify brother." Amen."Giddyap!" Yep. '3 2 1 GO !" :) "Yo, tell it like it is." We each have our own way. That the juice in the blue notes is generally easier to squeeze out carries is pretty common knowledge. Know a blue note or two?

wiki ~ "Tell It Like It Is" song

Art ~ Build a solo. This is the challenge that many of us as American improvising musicians face on a regular basis. Too many variables to consider here, but the core of it is to tell a story based on the theme of the song chosen for performance. Our own 'version' of the tale so to speak. Beginners should find the melody of the song. In days now past the 'rule' was that if I didn't have the melody of the song under my fingers, I didn't really qualify to get to take a solo on that number. In some of the bluesier styles, climaxing the ride is the essential pure joy of the process. The whole band, audience and especially the dancers, join to build it all up together, insuring all get to join in at the moment to release the tension that built up to the climax ... then kaboom as they often said :) Sing the line play the line is probably the first mantra in this building process.

Art ~ Build any triad / chord. That we only get to build up chords on a couple of instruments, the string harps, the various keyboards and the fretted string instruments, the in 'theory' way to build any chord is quite easy and rather straightforward. We ask; I need a ______ chord, in a ______ musical style, whose letter name pitches are __ __ __ __ __ . Then locate these pitches on a chord playing instrument

Art ~ By ear. This is generally the way most of us learn Americana music and is a natural way to learn any instrument. Vocally sing, hum or scat the line you want to play and find it on your ax. As there's only 12 pitches we've already narrowed down our search considerably. Learning melodies by ear will help lock in the pitches and intervals. The melodies we learned way back as kids might be the perfect music to start this whole 'by ear' process off. Listening to our favorite players we learn of the magic, and a source for new ideas. Sing along with the recordings, then find the pitches you sing as best you can on your ax. Hearts to hands is the connection we often seek to be the storyteller. This living and sharing connection strengthens the more we do it. Got something to say? It'll come, just keep on keep on.'

Also, there are those natural artists that play by ear. I think those that do, know it. They play the music they dig by ear, sound great and blend right in. Learn what they can when they can, but don't really worry about it. often these artist seek to become masterful on their instrument, have their own artistic signature. Not 100% sure here but I think this level of natural talent still has to practice. Rehearsals too, helps to have the changes :)

Art ~ By the numbers. At some point in understanding your own music and learning the theory a cat might begin to think of things in terms of understanding their musings by simply replacing a letter name pitch with the number that represents it, all within a key center and its key signature. For example, the letter pitches of a one octave 'C' major scale become 1 through 8.


Advancing into this one perspective can truly accelerate ones learning. I just don't think there's really any real sustainable loopholes in this; anything in musical letter names can be represented in numbers when viewed from within a key centered on a tonic pitch. What we gain is the ability to project our 'numerical theory' into any key, on to any musical color, emotional setting or pitch combinations, that we might ever conjure up in any of our 12 major or 12 minor key centers. Blues too? Yep, blues too. Blues by the numbers :) So the whole tamale? Yep, numbers can cook up the whole tamale.

For example, a letter named pitch such as 'C' is numerically represented as '1' in the key centers of C major and C minor. So in a song written in the key of C minor, a chord whose root pitch is 'C', numerically can be represented as a '1' / I / One chord. So in any key major or minor, the chord built on key's root pitch is One. So whatever happens with a One chord can be the same for each of our key centers. Handy !

145 / 251 / 3625 ... Another quite common application of numerical equivalents is describing the root pitches of chord progression. A song written with 'three chords and the truth', for instance a 'G, C, D' er', is also in numbers a One / Four / Five chord progression in G major. This numerical designation we can extend into any chord progression both diatonic and non diatonic, to the pitches of their arpeggios including all color tones etc.

Art ~ Cadential motion in Americana music. Cadential motion is what we use direct where our music is going. They most often end our musical phrases, and the songs we place them in. They come in lots of different varieties and each has its own sense and degree of ending or closure. A 'perfect authentic cadence' creates a perfect sense of a complete closure to a phrase of music. All comes to rest. In rhythms and time, emotionally, spiritually and in the story being told, all 'perfectly' resolve to a perfect closure. It does this by loading up on the tonic pitches of a song's key and the bass motion of V to I. Know of this foundation to direct to a sense of rest, all of our other cadential motions become lesser (?) 'degree's of this perfection.' Here's cadential perfection of closure in 'C major / A minor', root position Five to One chords.

End of phrase end of story ... ? Perfectly authentic :) Next tune :) Break time already ? Another take? OK.

So in a folk song in G, a G chord often is followed by C. This is diatonic motion of One to Four so no real chord cadencing or cadential aspects. We'll use a D chord to set up the return to G. In a blues styled tune, this same G chord often becomes G7 before the C7 chord is sounded. Again V7 or D7 becomes the Five chord to One / G7. In our theory system, Five to One motion can become the core of it all for our cadences. Really just depends on style and the endless mix of ethnicity of the folks making musics worldwide.

In pop to varying degrees, not uncommon to use the full or more complete F / G 7 to C, ( IV / V7 / I ) whereby complete means that we use the full weight and potential of the gospel Four to the tritone bearing V7 to solidly resolve itself to One. This cadential motion creates a true Americana sense that we've arrived at a resting point. This cadential motion is also used to modulate to a new key center with a song. This One / Four / Five motion is the core of the 'diatonic 3 and 3.'

Jazz very often uses a full or complete cadence between any and all chords within a song. Crazy sounding for sure but seems as if any opportunity to use a chord or two to set up the direction of the music then we got it. Jazz evolves the gospel / pop chord progression of IV / V7 / I cadential motion by often subbing a Two ( ii -7 ) for Four. Two / Five / One is just a sleeker motion and as such can move things along at a faster clip. This allows jazz tempos to accelerate. We see this 'Two chord acceleration' in the music in the 1930's and forward.

For in the 40's, empowered with the sleeker Two / Five cadential motions, Charlie Parker continues this acceleration of the music that demanded both accurate tonal direction and super sleek and super fast cadential motions. For in his compositions we'll find the divvying up of the diatonic pie into ever thinner slices for his explorations. Parker's ability to fully arpeggiate and bluesify the cadential motions through a tonal center at blazing speeds opened up new cadential and modulation options for the jazz artist. A decade later through the arpeggiation of chord substitution principles, John Coltrane will create a 'sheets of sound' approach to soloing through the changes that take Mr. Parker's ideas to yet another pinnacle of development; the edge of chromaticism, where cadential motions only direct and are rare to finalize or come to a close.

wiki ~ Charlie Parker
wiki ~ sheets of sound
wiki ~ John Coltrane

In today's chromaticism, cadential motions are a slippery thing, as all of the chords become tritone bearing, V7 type chords. Tempos blaze of course and melodic lines, coupled with modern styled 1/8th notes, take on a sort of chromatic buzz with no traditional sense of cadential closure. Think of an express train passing many stops becoming a rocket ship that somehow stops at them all, safely and on time. Modern jazz will do this and keep the blues hue to boot !

every chord is V7
chromatic buzz
blues hue

Art ~ Call and response / improvisation.

This age old back and forth is perhaps the original way it all goes down. Still as valid today as ever, the back and forth dynamic runs deep in our sense of creating community and togetherness in performances. We can bring this to any style of interplay between musical ideas to really any mix of styles. For example, a common call and response event with kids is "Old MacDonald Had A Farm" ... E I E I O :)

wiki ~ call and response (music)

Art ~ Capture emotions ~ set the mood.

Can we understand our musics by looking at our most precious states of emotional being? Of course we can. Can 'joy' be consistently captured with a set group of pitches? Or is their magic only brought to life in combination with the motion of time, like a frisky, toe tappin' rhythm? Both are cool. Is the longing that often awaits love's arrival easily found and sounded in a minor chords, pulsed to life by a heartbeat, thump thump thump rhythm? Easy, absolutely. Are our sorrows and regrets balanceable with the renewal of life into light as with Yin / Yang in our stories through musical tones? Balance is tricky yes? And does our now ancient relative minor / major weave provide the necessary pitches for our new age emotions? There's room for a debate here. And what about the blues? And the stories there? From folk legend to the modern urban of today, the blues run deep in Americana.

Simply by listening to the music we each love and letting ourselves go with it, we know this 'emotional capture' exists yes? Of course it does, it is why music is so cool and reaches out to everyone. So how do we each learn to do this? Develop a palette of musical sounds and rhythms that express our range of emotions in our stories?

A start? Find a song and melody that brings you joy. Sing it till you thrill at your own power to bring your joy to this song. Then find another. Or a sorrowful song that when captured by your voice the tears swell, then you'll own the pitches and understand their pathways of expression forever. Find an instrument and tune it to the record and find the pitches. Once you're this far there's no turning back :)

Art ~ Capture the historical times in music. Thanks to nearly a century's worth of Hollywood film scores we've today a rather vast library to explore for clues to what musics will capture any given time in our history. For from cave to castle, it's covered. The epic scores for epic stories depicted in the movies must be imagined and written. For while today's 'sampling' is cool and especially potent in our modern today, capturing the historical times of the storyline of a movie in memorable musics is an art like no other (at least for us musicians). Everyone should get a try at this 'scoring music for a movie' somewhere along the way.

And even us writers and composers of 'new' music sample too, perhaps in just a different way. We should always remember that 'all music was once new.' In doing so we carry on the tradition of ever modernizing our culture. Say I need music for George Washington crossing the Delaware River in the winter, I can find paintings of the event to visualize and cue up a song from their day; "Yankee Doodle." Find its groove to set the mood, look at the heroic paintings and conjure up something that will capture the spirit of the scene and times in music. And once we've the idea, the rest is just the work process of composing the new music. Ideas often play out into duds, but in the process of trying I've learned and probably have a new way forward or two. So we begin again, again.

Art ~ Chord function / quality / type. Rhythm and time considerations aside for the moment, does the pitch, arpeggio or chord we hear, as the music goes by in real time, give us the sense of being at rest or in motion to a resting point? We hear this all the time at the endings of songs in every style.

This basic dual sensation, in motion or at rest, becomes the initial basis of defining the function of really any pitch, scale, arpeggio, chord or even rhythm in all of our styles our music. We as theory scientists can then examine most any chord for its pitch qualities of intervals and further evolve the concepts to create our three unique chord 'types.'

Chord type in a way allows us to measure just how much forward motion or sense of rest any combination of pitches might contain. Of course, what chord we find and where we find it in the music ... is the whole tamale in this. This search is also the curiosity juice of our own evolutions, as a modern guitarist.

So in a formula of sorts;

chord function / quality ~ evolves to chord type

Since there are only so many pitches and combintaions, in creating chord type we find the same intervals between their pitches and thus understand to define and shape the sense of forward motion of really any musical element, create the artistic idea of how any component might function and understand its quality in relation to the other parts of a song.

That all music basically works in this fashion, this 'either ~ or' (at rest / in motion towards being at rest) is a perfect way to initially define function, to get a sense of the 'musical function' of any component. Simply, does it create tension or release in our musics ...

So how we understand our resource and design our music is often shaped by this one component; a sense of being in motion (on the road) to a place where we come to rest (landing home). Do read on for further insights and further evolutions into this essential.

Art ~ Chord quality. The idea of chord quality is mostly a jazz concept and is based on the type of 3rd and 7th in any given chord. No 7th? Then it's probably some sort of triad. So is a chord a major chord or minor? And is its 7th degree a major or dominant 7th? For these intervals define our chord type. Once in this realm, any chord can be defined by type, opening up new possibilities for viewing harmony and function in composition.

Art ~ Chord type / pitch, arpeggio, chord. Mostly a jazz concept, chord type is simply a way to catalogue chords together that will function the same way in similar musical settings. There are three categories of chord types here in Essentials; One, Two and Five.

Art ~ Click and read. Click and read is the mantra for interacting with this book. Click of course is the magic with the computor mouse that clicks and through the hyperlinked word which takes us to another spot in the story. Read is what we do when we get there. From an educational standpoint, this work is polished towards the public library and home school learners.

Of course a library is a sanctuary where folks can go and read in peace :) So we're cool there. And it is among my sincerest intent that school age students learn to read English too, one among the many dialects to be explored. As we evolve here in Alaska with the tech, this work will be translated into many additional languages of our earth. Are you interested yourself or know of someone capable of translating this 'ebook' into your languages? Please go right ahead with blessings :)

English is the main language that has been historically spoken here in North America that creates the working vocabulary we can today use to describe the art and theory components of the tones we dig. Endless local slang makes the translations ever evolving of course but the basics of academia now span globally and truth be known, a 'secondary dominant' is pretty much the same stack of pitches here in Alaska as in Seattle, S.F., L.A., N.Y., London, Berlin, Moscow, Bejing and Tokyo and points in between.

So in the 'global affairs' ways of today, getting folks on the same page with the same terms and ideas is a great facilitator in getting things accomplished. And that just feels good for there's always another song to write, learn and explore and mixing ideas from far away lands has always lent a touch of the 'exotic' to the same old same old Americana weave. That music can become for some an endless pathway of artistic discovery and expression within a community of sentient beings. The Americana experience has its uniqueness in its philosophical strive to be all inclusive, gathering all peoples together into the weave of community who share the joys of music together.

And for posterity. In putting this work forth I attempt to capture and expound upon the whole tamale of the Americana music scene from a nuts and bolts theory view of the vast array of styles in our musical arts. The main reasoning here is that if later generations ever need to recreate the magics we love today, if they understand math and numbers the way we do, they'll have a 'theory way' written out to recreate our unique sets of pitches, their two disctinct tunings for melodies and chords which we combine for our songs, coupled with how our musical time is altered to create the wide ranging magics of the swing rhythms, putting Americana into motion.

So with this in mind ... see a word you do not know of yet or an idea you're curious about ... ? Click the link and go explore. Click and read on :)

Art ~ Closure ( perfect ). The idea of a perfect closure is really two parts. One is that any loop of pitches in any interval configuration will always close back to its starting point if extended far enough along. This helps us to prove up our theory machinations.

Second has to do with the more modern application of equal temper tuning to our 12 pitches. This way of tuning creates a perfect closure for the pitches and is the basis of the 'anything from anywhere' concept for the evolving modern guitarist.

Art ~ Colors / palette. This representation is simply a way to organize our musical resources in a one dimensional picture that lays out our musical components as the way a painter might with their colors.

Art ~ Cool with the numbers. Becoming cool with the numbers is all about swapping letter names for their representative numbers within a designated key center. This simple process can become a giant facilitator in our music. Here's a chart spelling out the diatonic triads in A major. From the chart we become cool with the numbers by thinking that; Our root pitch A is #1 of our scale, arpeggio and triad, Two is B, Three is C# etc.

scale numerical degrees
A major scale pitches
arpeggio numerical degrees
A major arpeggio pitches
chord number / quality
vii - b5

triad pitches


add the seventh


Surely there's more to the relationships between the pitches, in a key center, and the numerical ways we can identify them. Click 'music and math' to explore.

Art ~ Common tones. A common tone is simply a pitch that is shared by two or more successive components in the music. We find them in all of the styles and they really can help glue things together as well as create excitement when placed in repetitive situations.

Art ~ Composers. So just how important is music theory to those of us who compose our own music? Here in Essentials, a part of composing is viewed as solving puzzles and the theory can help generate possible pieces. The discussion titled 'anything from anywhere' is the jazz end while the 'diatonic 3 and 3' towards the folks side.

Art ~ Composing in real time. This is really just the art of improvisation. That we compose music in real time, as we go along, is part of the core Americans magic. That we can create musical settings to do this is what many cats strive for throughout their careers. Finding the right players to get with that allow for this cerebral process to take place is often the trick for each of us brings our own uniqueness to the process.

Art ~ Concentration. This is the game changer that not only changes the music performance game but is also the elevator that raises us up to who we are as critters on this big rock as it flies through space. First developing and then longterm strengthening of our own ability to concentrate and focus becomes the key to a successful musical process. As we get better and our parts become more difficult, we match and master the whole process through our minds; mind over matter through focusing & concentrating :)

Art ~ Core five elements of music. Time, melody, harmony, form and a story to tell ... plus some improv, to make our Americana magics.

Art ~ Core groups of pitches. Our three core groups of pitches for creating Americana musics have 5, 6 and 7 pitches respectively. So we've five in the core pentatonic scale, then add one to six in the blues, then add two making seven in the natural, relative major / minor group of pitches.

Art ~ Count it off. How we count off a tune is the way we get everyone in the band on the same page in a couple of key ways. Timewise and tempo of coure, we get to try and start together, and we can convey the style, groove and energy we're hoping to capture when playing the song, all by how we emphasize the numbers as we count it off.

To count off a song means to set a tempo and give bandmates a verbal 'countdown' to begin playing. Usually some sort of verbal spoken 1 2 3 4 etc., each style has its own ways of getting the band to start together. In the blues, rock and jazz styles, counting off the band usually starts with finding the 2 and 4 clicks of the tempo / time. In counting off a song, we often snap our fingers on these beats and speak the numbers on top of the finger snaps. Click the git to hear it all.

This one skill is a potential game changer in understanding how our Americana music motors on along. For it combines a couple of our skills and gets us to visualize the music that is about to happen. So, looking into the future a bit? Exactly. Termed to 'kick it off', or 'count it off', 'count us on in brother / sister', however you want to term it, begin to learn to do it here and now if need be, evolve forevermore on 2 and 4 :)


Art ~ counting rhythms. For many players of the Americana styles, reading the music while performing is generally note done. We rote memorize our parts. That said, developing the ability to count out rhythms is a solid skill to have for learning new music from notation. Invaluable really, as there is so much written music in standard notation. Pitches might be the easier to learn that the rhythm, so knowing the basic 'math' of counting the numbers goes a long way in decifering notation, rhythms and learning new music from say a lead sheet.

Art ~ Curiosity and learning. Once we get bit by the curiousity music critter, we're good to go as there's a couple of lifetimes of coolness archived to explore. Then we might even want to go and travel to where the musical magical we're curious about actually went on down. No end to it really, and for those so wired for learning, a true blessing as we love music, to make it and share it, to shape it and evolve it and somehow make it all swing in some sense somehow and always remember the blues, and the need to be solid in our pursuit of our Americana

Art ~ Damping the strings. A term used to describe how we can start and stop the vibration of the strings thus their sound. These techniques give us greater control over things in general and especially in matching up chords etc., and rhythms. This becomes key when getting it all to swing. We do this by simply keeping our fretboard fingers in their places and reducing the pressure that allows them to sound. Click the pic to hear the damping of chords, four to the bar; in G major.

Art ~ The dancers. Dancers are probably the original reason why we started to make music in the first place. Getting some of our first steps from the critters, there's just a fascination with the dancing process that is potentially mesmerizing for all involved. In predictable music such as the 12 bar blues, dancers often follow right along with the recognizable form of the song, expressing their mind and body thoughts through their movement in form.

When playing bass on blues gigs, once the song is started and depending on the whole vibe, I'll watch the dancers to lock in with their time. Very cool things happen once they feel that they are the setting the pulse and wow do they ever love join the band in this way.

In the the less predictable sounds of say jazz music, there's a free flow of energy that is released that just shakes of the dust of everyday life. Expression, being creative and physical motion combine together to soothe the soul after a day's work.

Animal sounds. As musicians, we probably first got our musical sounds from the earth critters too. When we emulate their sounds on our instruments, it nearly always will bring a smile to those involved. Search around and find a full orchestra going through their instruments, each finding the critter's natural sounds. Even better, find some aural documentation of the critter's mating calls, then find some of these licks on your blues guitar, they're surely there somewhere :)

wiki ~ dance

"We should consider everyday lost on which we have not danced at least once." wiki ~ Friedrich Nietzsche.

"When you dance, all the stars and the planets and the endless universes dance around that still point. The heavens respond and the invisible kingdoms join the dance." wiki ~ Sufi dervishes.

Art ~ Dennis DeBlasio discussion. Luckily a few years back now, I got to hang out for a 1/2 hour or so with jazzman Dennis DeBlasio. We talked about music theory after his music seminar presentation at the Alaska Jazz Workshop summer camp for kids. The conversation went along these lines, and I paraphrase and summerize our talk here, a few years later.

"Hi Mr. DeBlasio time for one more question? Sure man, call me Dennis please. Right on thank you. Dennis, what's the hardest tune in The Real Book Volume One, without hesitation, ... why Coltrane's "Moments Notice." I smiled broadly, asked why? Well Dennis responded, because you have to come up with an idea and then modulate it halfway through to get to its conclusion. In that era it was among the 'new' challenges some cats were hungry for. Remember the tempo is near 210 or so, so it's scooting right along and the tune is chock full of nice changes to spell through." Thanks Dennis !

Jacmuse takeaway. "Moment's Notice" was among the first of true harmonic evolutions after bebop recodified the Americana jazz language in the 1940's by thoroughly exhausting the diatonic pie. With its writing and recording, in 'Moments Notice" Coltrane has started his diatonic based, harmonic evolution that will further ascend before the chromatic and blue note leanings of his closing years.

In between is 'sheets of sound' and "Giant Steps", a song released in 1959, which again provided jazzers with new ground to explore and conquer. In between is the exhaustive 'sheets of sound' shedding, the arpeggiation of the full dominant V7b9 substitution potentials and ascendence to all things V7. Mr. Coltrane's later period, of decidedly more chromaticism, is near to follow.

Alaska Jazz Workshop
wiki ~ Real Book Volume One
wiki ~ "Moments Notice"
wiki ~ 'sheets of sound'
wiki ~ "Giant Steps"

Art ~ Diatonic ~ non diatonic. So are the pitches of a song in a key and within its signature or not? Chances are they are in a key and we term them to be 'diatonic.' If the pitch is not in the key center of the music we are examining? We simply term that 'non-diatonic.'

As the vast majority of American music is centered in one key and its pitches, we use this distinction to keep track of any additional pitches that come along. Seven diatonic pitches plus the five blue notes combines to make the 12 pitches of the chromatic scale. No more no less :) And read on :)

Art ~ Diatonic core. 7 + 5 = 12. In most of songs, seven pitches of the key center provide the diatonic core pitches to generate the groups of pitches or scales, which become arpeggios, which are segmented or stacked into chords. The the 'other' five pitches, are the blue notes mostly. Added back all up make twelve, the number of pitches in the chromatic scale. Understand these relationships and you're climbing on the Steps to Parnassus. And read on :)

wiki ~ Steps to Parnassum

Art / the diatonic pie / getting all the clan 'relatives' together. This is my term for describing what we usually cook up the seven pitches of the diatonic scale. For in visualizing all this as a pie we get our heads and bellies completely around the resource, which we can carve up any old way into all sorts of songs of all of our musical styles. The main ingredients for baking the Americana pies? Easy; the big 4, relative major / minor group of pitches and the blue notes and the diatonic 3 and 3 for the chords. Personal spices? To each their own as the saying goes. Of and of course it always helps to have a tale to tell with a hook to kick it all off. And read on :)

Art ~ (pure) Diatonic theory. In our musical world today, where our melodies are nearly always supported by chords, pure diatonic theory dictates that only the pitches of the parent scale of the melody can be used to create the chords. Thus, melody and chords are in perfect alignment to one another. When pitches vary between melody and supporting harmony, we call them non-diatonic tones. In our Americana musical sounds, with its blues hue, we rarely ever get to this level of diatonic purity. We, as theorists, use it more as a benchmark to build up and understand where the pitches are coming from to create the magic. Read on :)

Art ~ (The) Diatonic three and three. The diatonic 'three and three' is just a quip of a term to remind us that in each of our key centers, we can build up the six chords ( 3 + 3 ) that are used to create the majority of our Americana songs. Each of the two groups of three create the One / Four / Five chord progressions; one set for major and one set for minor. Is this the 'three chords and the truth' associated with the fine art of crafting so many of our fine Americana songs? Yep. And isn't the One / Four / Five the essential chords for blues and rock and roll? Yep. And read on :)

Art ~ Diatonic triads. The vast majority of Americana music is diatonic and the diatonic triads are the basis of the chords or harmony of a song. We often ask, 'what key center is that triad diatonic to?' This helps us understand the theory as we've a key center created by a set of pitches to work from and lean against.

Art ~ Diminished colors / half or fully diminished ? As these colors are so close to one another in sound, this is a common spot in understanding our music that can be a bit knotty for emerging scholars.

'The 1/2 diminished color, 'min 7b5', is diatonically built on vii of the major scale and is ii in natural minor.

Fully diminished color is a symmetrical color of minor 3rd intervals, diatonic to the harmonic minor group. Fully diminished lives in V7b9, that 'jazz portal' color that takes us to points beyond the diatonic realm :)

For both of these colors work a couple of ways, mostly through the blues, pop and jazz styles. Just sort them out as needed to create the music you dig, as their unique theory can each be diatonically traced back to a solid, organic source. Here's a chart that traces their pitches back to their diatonic origins.

~ half diminished ~

~ full diminished ~

C major
C harmonic minor

half diminished


fully diminished

Half diminished is a diatonic chord built from the major scale. Built on Seven, it plays a portal role between major and minor within a center. In construction the triad is diminished; a minor triad with a diminished 5th. Its b7 is simply a minor 7th.

Fully diminished is diatonic to the harmonic minor group. Its triad is diminished; minor 3rd under a diminished 5th. Its 7th is also diminished; from a minor 7th reduced by half step to diminished, noted by the 'bb7' in the chart above.

B D F to A / major 3rd
B D F to Ab / minor 3rd
parent scale = 'C' major

parent scale = 'C' harmonic minor /

'B, D, F, Ab' symmetrical diminished scales, arpeggios and chords

Art ~ The dots. Ooops, in this picture those are rectangles right :) Regardless, in this Essentials text, while the theory discussions often center on the diatonic C major / A natural minor pairing, the method for learning to apply the scales, arpeggios and chords on the fingerboard, is almost always the G major / E minor pairing. For in theory, the dots on most guitars locate the modal groupings of E Dorian and the G Lydian loops. There's the pentatonic groups of both, major and minor, also located by the dot placement. And how well the core five scale shapes, that cover the first 12 frets on our guitars, fit into this overall scheme seals the deal.

Built right in. From the open low 'E' string there's a minor 3rd followed by four whole steps and then another minor 3rd to close the octave. These pitches outline the Dorian modal color. From the perspective of 'G' as the root, we get most of the Lydian group. And even going back to the open 5 sting banjo, the markers follows along these lines too, especially when finding the blue notes in G.

So just a bit of food for thought and a prompt to explore to find the origins of the fret markers placements. And though just musing here. These are the facts and can't help to think that there's more to it than meets the eye :)

The dots lay out the Dorian / Lydian modes. Turns out that the layout of the dots or fretmarkers we find on most guitars points us to a Dorian / Lydian physical organization of the pitches.

Know that Dorian, Lydian pairing of pitches, loops etc., go all the way back in our most trusted written records.

Examine the pitches of the root pitches 'E' and 'G' pairing and then a picture of the fingerboard markers. Example 1.

scale degrees
Dorian mode pitches
Lydian mode pitches

Are you going to "Scarborough Fair?" Also turns out that this now near ancient melody's pitches can be found on a traditionally (?) fret markered guitar. We need to do some octave transposition of a pitch or two, but they're all under the dots. There must be others. Get this coolness under your fingers here if need be.

wiki ~ "Scarborough Fair"

Art ~ Double tritones. We get a two pairs of tritone intervals in the fully diminished 7th chord. This sets off an avalanche of theories and opens up multiple pathways for exploration and discovery. Found above the root pitch of V7b9, there's a wide variety of ways to use this coolness. We've an organic source. And ways to soften the 'bristle' a bit, smoothing the way for even the remotest of modulations to flow and soothe, in both major and minor key centers.

Art ~ Double Two / Five. As the name implies, the double Two / Five is simply a Two / Five cadential motion doubled up. So two, so Two / Five motions linked together that are a half step apart. So a chromatic motion that encourages the improvisor to create an idea and have to modulate the idea up or down by half step in mid flight so to speak. This is certain settings will ramp up our improv challenge quite nicely :) This harmonic motion has a special place here in Essentials. For it is the first of the evolutions that we find in the written, original music of John Coltrane.

Art ~ Dynamics. Is simply about the soft to loud range of sounds we apply to crafting our music. Most common perhaps is to 'bring it down' at the top of a new pairing of choruses in a 12 bar blues. In the improv world, getting our own volume underneath the soloist is the key, to be supportive and not interfere with their process. 'Piano' meaning soft and 'forte' which is loud, perhaps to simply think of our musical dynamics as with our speaking voices, to avoid the monotone so often dreaded that sets us to a snoozin' ... :)

With performing music that is written, the dynamic markings are usually written in the score and correspond to the wishes of the composer. It's a solid aspect to build climaxes in the story. With the Americana sounds, where most performances are with players not reading the music, we count on someone in the group 'conducting' things and 'reminding' folks in the band to indeed bring it down. Sometimes being that cat has its problems. I guess we just have to choose between the band being LOUD all the time which kind of ____ or being the boss in the group and motioning bandmates to bring it down on agreed upon points in the music and incurring the risk being the ____.

An easy way to fix this is watch the dance floor and see the way the dancers react to the soft / loud dynamics of the band. Usually that's proof enough of craftily employing the magic of dynamics to convince even the most stubborn of the loudsters.

Art ~ 'E' book magic. The HTML protocol that I used to put this book together is the magic to make the one word link to another and empowers the written musical examples play back via an mp3 file and basic computor hardware. Thus empowered, we true 'non-reading notation' artists now have a way in to the theory through the ancient aural tradition. This basic 'trick' of an 'e' book happens because of the internet browser that we use to 'open' this book, that runs the whole show. And there's a sort of hidden trick too; for in this browser environment, we can right mouse click to highlight any words we are curious about. Any can be highlighted. And if the hardware running the software is on-line, then all the words, and what they represent within, can be explored beyond this work on the world wide web. Try it with the google chrome link. Right click and search

google chrome


Art ~ Easy do / easy fix. These are probabilly the two most important words in show biz. If you're working your way up and helping someone create art and they ask you to do something, these two words are the one's they want to hear. Hopefully they won't ask you if it is outside your present abilities etc. Saying this as a helper helps build up some good karma for when we're the leader and producing art, and ask a help.

Art ~ Emotional environment. This is totally my term and artists reading here please forgive me for creating such a descrition and concept but ...

... this pair of 'e' words is used throughout the text to describe the mood of a song, its 'emotional environment.' An 'environment' can include all; major / minor, modal, atonal and then into forms, genres and styles; folk, pop, punk, blues, rock and of course jazz :)

Folks who write the songs often are looking to capture their emotional idea for a song in sounds that become musical. If there's words and a melody, that usually sums it up and directs the supporting chords, which support the 'environment' intended by the composer.

Instrumental music is a whole 'nother ball of wax' and maybe even a bit more of a challenge. Jazz is often instrumental, players skilled in finding the emotional hues that pitches sounded in musical time impart. Cats that play the horns, single note line producing instruments, maybe they get a leg up on us chordal cats in finding the emotional qualities of a line. So we guitarists that have the best of both, melody and chords and even both together, have options to consider in creating and nuancing our emotional environments.

"To avoid criticism ...

do nothing,

say nothing,

be nothing."

Elbert Hubbard

Art ~ encircling the theory. This idea is simply about understanding the looping and perfect closure properties of our 12 pitches as soon as possible in their studies. Having the full picture defines the whole group, making the understanding of any individual set within it defined by the group's dynamics.

One expression of this would be understanding how the 12 pitches of the chromatic scale become an unbreakable loop of pitches, repeatable through additional octaves. And having the understanding of this to perform on a piano keyboard and sing the pitches to one's best ability.

Art ~ Essential understands ~ review and forward.

For some reading here, these 'essentials' suggestions will be a review. Please take the few mintues and read them through as their presentation here cores the learning and performing philosophies of this UYM / Essentials book.

12 bar blues form. Every thing Americana flavor fits in the blues. Get hip and super solid with this song form as quick as ya can. For it's the easiest way to learn to play any style of music for everything with some Americana flavor fits into the blues and this 12 bar form. Through our whole spectrum of styles there's 12 bar blues songs to learn. Folk, blues, jazz rock, pop and hip hop all love the blues. So once hip to the basics of its form and phrasing, there's 100's, and counting, songs to learn that bolt right up into this form. If your looking to gig and find more pro work, study up and master this 12 bar form and an awful lot can fall right into place when under the lights.

Time and rhythm. Find the 'big 4', then 2 and 4 and count a four bar phrase. Count and number the measures of a 12 bar blues in 4/4 time. Find the 'pull' of the swing from 2 and 4. This is a core Americana pulse.

And if ever needed to recreate our Americana music making capacity from scratch. the following guidelines will help. The mathematics to build up a tuned guitar, equal temper tune pitches for harmony, find the blue notes with a slide, and motor them along with a 2 and 4 pocket is in this method narrative.

And is space silent? While there's a few ways to define space in our musics depending, the main focus in Essentials is about how we phrase our ideas in musical time. Space becomes the measured silence between the clicks of a metronome, creating some 'space to think', to let a few beats go by and in that quiet space, we think of the next idea and how we'd like to phrase.

The turnaround and closure.

That 'diatonic' sets and defines the group of pitches for melody and chords in a song, is most likely the diatonic scale, relative major / minor. This defines the theory perimeter of the melody pitches of song / style.

Numerical addition of pitches 1 by 1 from the pentatonic core. Add a one pitch tritone to minor create a six pitch blues scale. A perfect fourth to major to create a six pitch 'hybrid Americana.' Add a two pitch tritone for the seven pitch diatonic relatives major and minor. Discuss the modes by shifting the start points, thus the intervals, of the natural diatonic scale.

How scales become arpeggios. How arpeggios become chords. Spell out the diatonic triads. Explore why chords happen in 12 keys thanks to equal temper tuning.

That all of the pitches needed to build up the diatonic chords are the exact ones to build up the diatonic relative major and natural minor scale. This theory is the basis for determining a chord's parent scale.

Numerical evolution of chords and their color tones through musical style. Their gradual lessening of tonal predictability as their colors expand through the additional color tone pitches and on into polytonality.

Discussion of the blues rub, the combining together of tuned chords and variably tuned melody pitches. This combination of the pitches becomes one of the true roots of the various Americana musics and is the theory basis of the 'blue hue', the original Americana spice.

Art ~ 'even' 1/8th's ~ Often heard this style of 1/8th notes termed as 'Latin' 1/8th's. Eighth notes form the basis of the rhythm in our jazz lines. In the old days there were 'swing' 1/8th's and 'even 1/8th's, and today whatever style of rhytms swing hardest in the grooves U B digging, all are in play. Imagination and listening to music builds and brings in new ideas. Compare the two basic styles.

Art ~ evolutions of our understanding our music ~

And the various ways we 'morph' the resources. Just a 'bus' stop really, to choose new destinations to explore.

Beginning scholars of music reading here today, please read through these 'mini' super encapsulated descriptions of these 'evolutionary' topics. For they form the basis to create your 'view' of your musical artistry and interests in regards to the now way vast library of existing knowledge that we all share together. We never want to loose sight that each of us is unique, and thus hold our own unique view of the arts and worlds around us. From this 'ever evolving view', we create our own art throughout our lifetimes. Each new work sparked into life through the magics that come our way everyday, with our family, friends and community, and all the new folks we meet along the way. Never know where the next good idea will come from. And in the meantime? 'Hone our craft.'

Your 'view.' Once you've a beginning view of where you and your art is at, the rest is easy. For now our own energies and curiosities kick in and off exploring we go. This 'e' book works on this principle. That your curiosity and the choices you make, guide your way through the discussions and links, creating your own learning pathway through this curriculum. And if you are also on line, by learning the 'trick clicks' to get to Wikipedia? Kaboom :)

Art ~ evolution of cliche. As we each mature as artists, just turns out that when we each 'discover' for the first time something new, its exciting. After we play it a few times, like a million, we naturally grow weary as it becomes cliche. Probably gives us a weird vibe sort of when we play it, especially while improvising.

Yet once cliche, the idea is locked in now. And chances are it will locate new exciting discoveries. We add this and rote learn them. Play them a million times till they become cliche, especially when we're making it up as we go along and get that vibe.

Yet once cliche, we've added to our rote memories of ideas to search for new discoveries. And in doing so we evolve as an artist. Stay at it, and don't quit, and we end up with always have a way to be creative, share, make new friends and discovery along the pathways.

Art ~ Evolution of an artist. Once we begin to create, our own sphere of life becomes our creative muse, shaping our art as we go along through the decades. Even with our high degree of physical earthly animal, we've a unique mind that can be disciplined through practice and spiritually evolve to dimensions beyond. And once on this track we never need to look back :)

Art ~ Evolution (theory) of an jazz artist. The philosophy here is based on how we each hear V7. And what combinations of pitches and color tones, both diatonic and altered, that we will accept as a functioning and acceptable colorings for V7. So what the jazz artist accepts as V7 in a sense also figures into the style of jazz they dig to play.

So era and style all play into this evolution. Dixieland cats, wanting to work as Dixie players, are going to play those sounds that make that music. Which today is nearing 100 years old. So a 100 year old chord style, musical forms, melodies, group improv and so forth.

So how does the artist evolve throughout a career playing 100 year old music ? Simply by adding in the new ideas that come along while they are making their art happen; i.e., playing music. This is achieved by learning new songs, and by continuing the age old process of puzzling together existing pieces in new ways, which creates new pieces, and the cycle renews. The trick is really just to keep playing really, start young if you can, and always have music in your life somehow, someway so as to give our art a chance to grow.

Even developing one's time and swing play an evolutionary part and learning new songs and their melodies, forms and poetry. For many of us still play the old melodies, sometimes in new ways, just trying to get deeper into the emotional expression of the music. For those so impassioned, thankfully there's just no end to the songs to be learned, how deep the swing to be achieved in any style and the range of inclusiveness of community, that our music can bring together. R O !

wiki ~ styles of jazz

Art ~ Evolution of harmony in jazz. The evolution of dominant harmony is to a certain extent based on what we'll accept as a functioning dominant chord. For V7 has, and continues to rule the day, in most Americana styles, for it is the basis of blues harmony and the blues is traditionally a central core of Americana. In jazz, V7 has evolved to now include all of the colortones and alterations. There's all of the 'b9' substitution properties explored through the 40's and into the 50's of the beboppers. This cores Coltrane's 'sheets of sound' of the late 50's and encourages his further explorations into the whole tone color and on into "Giant Steps." Today's 'chromatic buzz' (my term) among modern jazzers is based on V7 preceding every chord of a song or replacing every chord in a song. And as the chords are altered and sounded in brighter tempos, the buzz arrives :) Scroll to the bottom of this next graphic and follow the triangles up for a progression of the V7 harmonic theory as put forth in this Essentials text.

Describing the red triangle just above (please scroll up); starting at the bottom, a spark of an idea represented by a base point of a triangle that through study grows to become a body of knowledge that can plateau and thus point to a new focus point to be achieved by discovery learning. That each new focus point of knowledge bases the next generational evolution towards another pinnacle, which can provide a new way of thinking, the paradigm shifting of thought we experience as we evolve and mature as sentient beings creating musical art. We hear these evolutions and label them with theory vocabulary.

This chart bottom to top (red to red triangles closing a seven chakra loop) represents a 100 or so years of Americana harmonic evolutions. These evolutions become in theory, a pathway of the historical theory evolutions that can define a pathway of shedding for the improvising artist. Follow the arrows up to best understand the progression of the harmonic theory.

From a purely theoretical sense, Mr. Coltrane's composition 'Giant Steps' is viewed here in Essentials as the most organically evolved of our American harmonic song cycles to date (2017). For there was nothing quite like it before and even today, no such harmonic structures have emerged in the popular literature that goes the next step beyond this core harmonic cycle. So while players have subbed on top of subs, made every chord in a progression a dominant V7 type chord and created all sort of chromatic buzzing one still might ask; 'has any one musical composition provided us a similar 'new' evolution of elements while still retaining the potential of all of the essential Americana components; the big 4, 2 and 4, a melody line that will swing, have room for some gospel or blues hue, all in a cycle of harmony created from traditional components in a form of perfect closure ... ? That mon amigo is the one theory question we might ever seek to answer ... yet perhaps there is a diatonic way beyond into a new loop.

Someday another such evolution will surely come along. Cats today are working every day just like Mr. Coltrane, sifting through the pitches looking for the new way forward in melody, harmony and swing. In a couple of instances in our historical development, the one in between melody and chords, the arpeggios, have provided the stimulus for players to evolve and point the way to a next level. Maybe it will again be the arpeggios that will point the new way forward.

Art ~ Evolution jazz harmony through V7. Tucked inside the last entry is the idea of a V7 chord type becoming every chord in a jazz improvisation format. Fairly simple to understand yet beyond the bear to play, it sort of goes like this. Thinking along the lines of a Baroque cycle of chords in a modern day setting, examine the following evolution.

wiki ~ Baroque music
Now we add in a V7 chord before each of our chords.  

Wow what a mess ! Now make every chord V7.


That's better ! Almost a bit of vaudville there. Now add in a few half step lead ins via a tritone substitute chord.

While sloppy here at the end, hopefully you get the sense of how making all of the chords in a song or progression a V7 chord type, couple with an accelerated tempo, makes for some interesting and exciting musics.

Evolution of Americana harmony. In this Essentials work, the evolution of Americana harmony revolves around a pairing up of musical styles and the number of chords found in their harmonic progressions and the added color tones to the basic diatonic triads. For the number of chords and use of additional color tones to these chords, generally trends an increasing complexity in understanding our styles of music.

On the folk end of our style spectrum, we mostly find a three note, triad basis and the One / Four / Five chords, in both major and minor keys. In this book termed the 'diatonic 3 and 3,' which for some readers here will be a 'stgc' thinking paradigm shift.

We first theory evolve this by adding the next pitch in our arpeggio. Our 1 3 5 becomes 1 3 5 7. The 7th is the first of our color tones and begins the stylistic move from folk into blues, rock and country and towards pop. As we begin to find chords in between the diatonic positions, add additional color tones and build up our chords, the 9, 11 and 13, and begin substitute one chord for another, we are stylistically on our way to the jazz realms of our style spectrum. And once we evolve Four into Two, its kind of game on for jazzing things up :)

So it's a numerics thing mostly, 'the number of elements in a thing', becomes a way to measure (?) and locate ourselves along our musical spectrum through the evolution of our Americana harmony.

Evolution of Americana improv. That there's improv to a greater or lesser degree in all of our Americana styles creates an evolution for each as the decades rolled by. While in most of our styles we've a consistent line of thought in this, in jazz, we can trace a few distinct evolutions that clearly changed the music which followed after. Following our historical timeline, the first would be the adaption of the musical lines in ragtime piano to a multi-instumental format. Today we call this music 'dixieland.' Here there's group improvisations of multiple single line voices combining together over a steady rhythm. There's 'theme and variations' the age old basis of our improvisations. Just riffing on the line really. A major evolution is in the late 1930's, when the chord changes of the sound became a new basis for improvised single note lines. And as the harmony and its complexities evolved in the succeeding decades, so did the improvised lines. Today, we have all of this combined. In the blues we often add 'call and response', perhaps the original way we began wayback.

wiki ~ music history of the United States

Evolution of Americana melody. The theory of the evolution of American melody in this text is based on correlating number of different pitches and musical style. That from our five pitch pentatonic groups to the twelve of the chromatic scale, we can see a rather clear and corresponding evolution of musical style; from children's songs and folk melodies to the atonal 12 tone lines of modern jazz. So, can a jazz melody have just five different pitches? Yes of course. Can a folk melody have 12 different pitches and still be a folk melody? Well I reckon' that depends on how we define 'folk' in regards to melody but probably that's a no; no 12 pitch folk melodies in the book ... yet :)

Evolution of musical styles. Here in Essentials, an 'art' aspect of musical styles is simply that songs in a style are representative of telling stories from the different walks of life. And that a style's predominant musical features characterize the life lead from within its culture. Our common names for styles Americana; folk, country, blues, rock, pop and jazz, are fairly reflective of where the music is sourced from. So for composers, just looking to capture the essence of their story in a particular style, and even a particular era in history, knowing the theory of a styles core elements and some of its cliché licks is a serious step forward in the composing and performing process. The musical cats in Hollywood are masters at this way of crafting music; composing music that captures a style and the historical era that their story is being told within.

For the evolving guitarist, understanding the numerical theory of musical style helps us reshape the elements in our work as we look to add a style's character to influence our work. The most common cliche of wordplay here is to think along the lines of 'jazzing it up', done by adding in new pitches to the ones we are using. The theories here in Essentials that track the evolution or morphing between our musical styles all revolves around the number of diatonic pitches involved to generally create that unique style or sound we associate with a style and its variously endless number of genres.

The melodies of children's songs are often four or five pitches from the pentatonic scale. We only get two triads from the five pitches. If we add a sixth or seventh pitch to these five, the simplistic character of a child's melody can take on a wider range as our number of pitches increases. With each added pitch our harmonic potential increases quite dramatically. Folk music chords are mostly triads, so the harmony of folk music is based on three pitches. If we begin to add a pitch or two to these three pitches our chords take on a new sound and character, and that character, while maybe folk based, also has added some blues, country, rock, pop or jazz chord colors adding to the mix. Succeeding generations often pull one aspect of an existing art and recreate a new, somewhat simpler version of its parent's DNA into a new genre for the younger generation.

Art ~ Evolution of swing ~ evolution of the 1/8th note, notating swing rhythms ~ dotted quarter / eighth note ~ even eighths ~ even eighths with accent on offbeat. Decade by decade, the core Americana swing has evolved in a simply 'reversing of the gravities within a band that makes the swing in the first place and in perfect jazz sense, coming full circle to create any of the genres within. Early swing the 1920's, was created over a 4/4 time and rhythm that really chopped the quarter notes, which many would say swing the hardest. Well the melody lines over that chop chop chop where created mostly by floating over the top in really any manner that worked to get the melody across. This non- metrical combination creates the pull of swing.

Later the dotted 1/8 and 16th, or tied triplet creates the 'lope' that became more come in the 30's and 40's. This also becomes the basis of swing in any and every other Americana styles that look to get their music swinging. Very very common even today and is the rhythm that most artists begin to swing with.

From the 40's on with the addition of the Latin flavored vibe, the eighth note, swing's lingua franca, gradually evens up the lope of the 1/8th note triplet. This direction has continued up and to including today,

'even 1/8's' rule the day ...

among top blues, blugrass, country, rock, pop and jazz artists. So while the 'chop chop chop' of the rhythm section is generally no longer the groove, the 1/8th note swing lines on top have become the chop, just in way faster tempos.

A next step in this direction is to accent the 2nd eighth note of each pairing. Which can be a very difficult thing to maintain, over longer lines or 'streams' of 1/8 notes, motoring along with a robust 2 and 4.

Art ~ evolution of tempos. As we look back on our Americana history of music, we have a central thread evolution that reaches its pinnacle in the bebop of the 1940's. For now there's signs that appear in nightclubs that declaim, 'no dancing please.' Now free of this requirement, to play danceable music, artists can jazz things up by accelerating tempos, to increase velocity.

This frees up the players to play faster, and work the 'through the changes' artform that Americana jazz has always enjoyed. And with those so inclined, even to today, a supremely personal and intellectual challenge to musically excel through our music's most breathtaking pathways of intellectual discovery.

Art ~ evolution of the theory. There's two main aspects to these discussions. One is centered on how additional pitches added to the natural core pentatonic five pitches that morph us between musical styles. By simple additive one by one, the AMERICANA of it all evolves. Adding one special pitch to minor pentatonic magics the blues scale. A rethinking of this addition and adding another pitch to make seven brings us to the relative major and minor group. This combined five, six and seven pitch groupings create nine out of 10 of our melodies, arpeggios and chords.

The second evolution of the theory in this work is based on tuning of the pitches. Here the older, naturally occuring pitches from Mother Nature go through 40,000 years or so of mathematical tuning evolutions. For as our math capacities evolved, we gain an organization of our core 12 pitches. And with the acceptence of the Euro equal temper tuning of say 300 years ago or so, we solidify the pitch levels for the development of chords, and really then into harmony and all its theories; old and now tunings of the same 12 pitches weaving and evolving together thanks to the mathematics (science) of its way of measuring and accurately recreating the intervals and the tuning up our pitches ( a clip-on tuner has these numbers built right into it :)

So that rather very, very precise and recreatable system of modern tuning but not without its own aural flaws too. An equal temper major 3rd is 6 cents sharp from Mother nature's finest pitch. So brittle for sure but and less loving? You decide. The blue, minor 3rd is as flat thus dull as the true 'moaner' note. Just needs a bit of a push upward, easy with strings. Otherwise, we're cool mostly with everything else. Luckly for we Americana's, we gots more blue notes, detune whammy bars, pitch bend wheels on the keys etc., to glue it up all together in myriad genres our own ways :) What's yours?

J.S. Bach creates the codex of these days in his two volume Well Tempered Clavier. This all plays large in our jazz musics. As artists evolve through the decades from blowing over the changes to blowing through the chord changes; each chord in a sequence providing a possible opportunity. And once this becomes an accepted basis for a theme and variations basis (by the early 1940's), its game on really as cats now will also use the changes and their substitutions to showcase their artistic and physical melodic prowess, on gradually accelerating tempos and increasing the increasing chromaticism that was to come soon there after.

In this work this theory evolution culminates with Coltrane's "Giant Steps", which advances the harmony out of the tritone / b9 / diminished / V7 based substitutions and on into the major 3rd's of the whole and thus beyond, which in this work becomes the '#15' portal. While retaining a gospel leaning, call and response melody, however abbreviated, and the essential Two / Five cadential cycle, "Giant Steps" of the early 60's ups the game for those so inclined, raising the bar thus the potential, for all of the arts of this era and forever forward. :)

Art ~ cycles of pitches ~ evolution to "Giant Steps." This next discussion of the evolution of harmony, and to a certain extent Americana improvisation itself, which culminates in the song "Giant Steps", is my own pure historical and theory musings. It is based on the idea that Coltrane exhausted the potential at definable levels of challenge, thus necessitating the devising of new harmonic challenges for himself in his own penned compositions. Through his shedding, ideas and themes for compositions came along that incorporated these evolutions of harmonic improvisatory challenges.

The theory of this harmonic evolution comes about by knitting together pieces of Coltrane compositions as they were recorded and released in the years between 1957 and 1960 with Mr. Coltrane as the leader on the recording sessions. Mostly based on the multiple resolving qualities of the perfectly symmetrical fully diminished 7th chord, this evolution runs like this.

From the blues basis of One / Four / Five 12 bar form and cadential motion, Four evolves into a Two chord which creates the Two / Five cadential cell. Nothing heavy here, just basic streamlining of the harmony for the brighter tempos of the 30's and 40's. Coltrane's first new 'advance the challenge' is to double up the Two / Five motion as found in "Moment's Notice," recorded and released in 1957.

wiki ~ "Moment's Notice"

In this evolution the double Two / Five comes from the minor 3rd properties of the fully diminished 7th chord as found in V7b9, allowing the Three / Six portion of the standard harmonic motion of Three / Six / Two / Five, to be in theory moved in it's entirety down a minor 3rd. In doing so Coltrane achieves the basic double Two / Five chromatic cadential motion that energizes the harmonic motions and art of "Moment's Notice." Examine the chord symbols and this proposed evolution in Eb major, the written tonic key for this song.

Eb major pitches
iii -7
G Bb D F
fully diminished 7th
VI 7b9
C E G Bb Db
E G Bb Db
ii -7
F Ab C Eb
V 7b9
Bb D F Ab Cb
bii -7
bV 7b9
A C# E G Bb
E G Bb C# (Db)

What this new motion creates is a wonderfully modified Two / Five cadential cell that creates the forward motion and support for a truly gospel sounding Americana melody that uses the classic 'common tone pitch between chords' compositional technique to glue up this exciting new harmonic element. So what helps to allow and support this song to sound 'seamless' and pure Americana in melody, in turn becomes quite a harmonic tour de force improv extravaganza for melodic improv through these changes when the soloing begins.

This new challenge requires the improvisor to create an idea then modulate this idea up a half step in flight. So an added twist organically evolved from the same old same old. That it is widely held that Coltrane had a rather robust practice regime, the 'double Two / Five' is part of Coltrane's 'ramping up the challenge' and to find something new to conquer.

The next phase of this evolution is here in Essentials is based upon the substitution properties associated with the V7b9 chord. As seen just above, the minor 3rd symmetry of the upper structure fully diminished 7th chord found within V7b9 can encourage us to move things in minor 3rd intervals, a three fret span on our guitars. Pairing this minor 3rd with the traditional cadential motion to resolve to One, moving up the interval of a perfect 4th, we arrive at the basic root motion for the composition "Giant Steps." Termed 'Coltrane changes', or sometimes as a part of 'post bop symmetry, it was the next evolution from the Two / Five / One extravaganzas of the boppers of the 40's and on into the early 50's. In C, here is the basic root motion of the minor 3rd / perfect 4th cycle. Example 1.

C / Eb7 / Ab maj 7 / B7 / E maj 7.

wiki ~ Coltrane changes

Note the descending tonal centers are a major 3rd apart, whose combined root pitches create an augmented triad thus whole tone scale potential. Also note the absence of a Two chord in the cadential motion to each tonic. Might have Coltrane exhausted the V7b9 diminished potentials and organically moved on to the whole tone / augmented colors? At least in regards to his harmonic structures for composition? Might we ever know? Probably not but at least the organic pathway for self development, the shedding from 'inside to outside' or 'tonal to atonal' is fairly clear in Coltrane's own evolution. Thank you Sir for providing the pathway for this musical ascension !!! Also note that this cycle of chord changes appears as the bridge of the 1937 show tune that became a standard song among jazz artists; "Have You Met Miss Jones ?", a song Mr. Coltrane surely must of known.

So why important? Well, it was back in the 1960's a next and stunning evolution in the music. It required even the most studied improvisor of the day to 'think differently' as their process unfolds. For those who aspire to this level organically from a blues based start point, as Coltrane did, it's amazing how this chord change cycle, being run in even a moderate tempo, has the ability to 'throw off' the 'through the changes' thought process of the artist as their momentum builds, let alone to create nice melodic lines (coolness determined by each artist :) Thus, an intellectual strengthener for the improvising jazz artist and a portal to expand our vocabularies. And again to say, that reaching this level of thinking provides and lays out a big part of the organic 'inside / outside' pathway for development of the evolving improvising artist of our indigenous Americana musics.

In getting to "Giant Steps" there are two other quite remarkable Coltrane songs that use this minor 3rd / perfect 4th harmonic motion in their construction. The jazz artist here should consider reading through the exquisite ballad "Naima" and the exciting minor 3rd modulating Two / Five romp "Lazybird." Both contain the harmonic elements that Coltrane condensed into the harmonic cycling in "Giant Steps." All three point to what would become the the next two evolutions that get us to today's modern sounds; placing an added V7 chord before every chord in a song and making every chord in a song V7 for the soloing sections in performance.

"Learning never exhausts the mind."

wiki ~ Leonardo DaVinci

Art ~ Evolution of the gear evolves the sounds which can evolve the music theory. That for guitarists and bassists, the evolution of the electronic gear has transformed the music for the last 40 years or so. For example, that full bar chords were once the staple for rockers gave way to the 5th's of metal as the overdrive quality of the amps and pedals could no longer process all of the pitches in the full barre chords. Also the 5th's are just sleeker, less cumbersome, thus potentially a faster way to get there.

Art ~ "Excellence is a habit." Just riffing on Aristotle. But how true and it is that the excellence we might inspire to in all things in life can become the results of a conscious, day to day habitual thought process of continuing self improvement simply by making good choices as the myriad of life's events come our way each day. And in our own education back to the philosophy of Honest Abe ...

wiki ~ Aristotle

Art ~ Existing information. Is the term we educators use to describe what each reader already knows about a topic and brings to their studies today. This held knowledge becomes the key (s) to open new doors to explore, based on the curiosities of each learner. Often termed discovery learning, we each then can build up our own systems of though based on what we need at any given point throughout in our careers. While most often based on the vocabulary of a subject, ideas; both intellectual and hands-on of an artist, also become pathways to wander and explore for ...

"Not all those who wander are lost." wiki ~ Tolkien

wiki ~ discover learning
wiki ~ Tolkien

Art ~ Fanning. Is a guitar technique whereby the strum hand rapidly and consecutively starts the strings in motion.

Art ~ Chops: fingerings and technique.

"You can teach technique."

"You've got to see this to believe it. I've never seen anything like it. Wow, just amazing"

These are a few quotes from over the decades describing how the hands move onover the instrument to conjure forth the magic. While there's no real right and wrong, specific styles often demand special approaches. For example, the classical guitar cats have a lot of the fingerings worked out, things go a certain way. Other than that, we've all seen the human spirit's need to conquer whatever challenges it encounters. So find your way, ask around, figure it out and just do it :)

Art ~ Faster tempos. As the tempos of the songs we play get faster, eventually we'll time out of most of the styles and move into the myriad of jazz stylings. So for us mere mortal guitar players faster tempos is a way physical thing. Which over the years and decades can take a physical toll on our fingers, hands, wrists, elbows, shoulders and back. So lots to consider; posture, posture and posture for we each are unique. Just a thought here to be conscious of the thing and sort it out, be amendable to change as the years go by.

Speed with guitar generally translates into a lot of notes in succession. Pick players could visualizing the width of their chosen pick and the with of the string. Realizing that once the pick has sounded the note and is past the string, how far past and where it goes factors into the speed of it all. The speedsters call this pick travel I think. Getting faster is about pushing the buttons with a super intellectual focus on this motion, often with a metronome. To simply discipline the hands to minimize pick travel. As it all ramps up it'll become second nature as you find your own best way with help from friends.

Mike Kova
Olli Soikkeli
wiki ~ speed metal
wiki ~ bebop

Art ~ 'Fear not the melody.' This really applies to artists who play instrumental music, and play a song's melody with their pitches. I took a lesson with a while back with a cat who told me the story about one of their college professors who would use this bit of a quip, 'fear not the melody', when learners played half heartedly. Spoken with some dramatic theatrical flair perhaps, it brings the smiles, and the truth of it, prolly near every time :)

To conquer, find a melody you love and totally rote learn it. The best ones to start with are melodies we've known all along in our own lives. Think back and find one, or two :)

The melodies included in UYM / Essentials songs' section are selected with this intent in mind;

'... to overcome any fears by rote learning preparation, of the melody lines we've known all along ...'

wiki ~ rote learning

Art ~ 'Fellow musicians = our friends'

The coolest of the cool in being musical is we'll always have friends, and can make new friends, wherever we may go around the world, and we come across the magics of music.

Of course there's the biz side of this, for there's like zillions in show biz, when 'the loot $$$ factor' kicks in, well ... people can get funny about money :)



'the off to infinity 8 ball'

Art ~ 'Find one tune.' Need to learn some reggae rhythms? Revisit the blue notes found on any Strat? Find your blue root in open 'G' with a slide? Find the swing of jazz chord comping? Broaden your own understanding of your own words / lyrics and poetry with melody notes?

According to legend, so from the way it used to be done, if you want to play a style of Americana, find one song and a recording of it, that just lights it all up for ya. Then wear the record out and learn every bit of it, or as much as you can, of every part in the arrangement. Things to look for the first few times through:

the hook and storyline

first pitch of the bass line / then the key center letter

rhythm pattern that sets the mood of the music's style

starting melody note letter name pitch

if applicable, find 2 and 4 in the mix


Art ~ 'Flip the bit.' This is a computor slang term I believe that we can apply to our own internal hardrive (our brain). That an idea can come along, a new or 'just found now' piece to our own unique puzzles of intellectual understandings, that makes the lights go on and creates a new vanishing point on a bigger picture of our vista horizon, as the puzzle piece slipped into place we 'flipped a bit' and wow ... just not in the same old same old anymore, we've a glimmer, insight or more for a new way forward. Surely a ... 'Toto, I don't think we're in Kansas anymore' type of moment :)

Art ~ 'Folks in the mix (folks in the room).' In the mix of course is a studio term as to who is in the band and how we each adjust our own musical parts to make it sound sweet. As guitarists, is there a bass player on the gig? Maybe layoff off the roots of chords. Have a keyboard player? Careful with chords, voicings and color tones, take turns on different sections etc.

This is the author's own slang to describe the actual performance of Americana musics, wherever and with whomever we might ever find it going on and the idea of inclusion; that everyone in the room is potentially a contributor to what is going on with the presentation of the music. From homes for learning to public schools and music class, concerts, clubs, from big stages to street corners, that everyone involved in the production of this music is heretofore be accounted for as 'folks in the show biz mix.'

... who contribute their energy to make art happen.

Also, that we as artists often experience, that our 'next' good idea for a new work can come from out of the blue, and that 'anyone in the mix' can hold that spark to bring to life the next song, story, play etc. For everyone has a story, just one of the things we sentient beings have in common to create community.

Art ~ Form in music. For many, form in music is initially a bit of a mystery, as it is also 'silent' component of architecture that we use to create our songs. Yet like the pitches and knowing which one is which in relation to a tonic pitch, we can learn to hear the form of the song by first finding the downbeat of the measures and then beat one at the top of the form being used. For our Americana musics, the 12 bar blues is a perfect starting point for finding the top of and getting our arms around a common form. In 4/4 time, simply count the measures while listening to a 12 bar blues.

1234 2234 3234 4234

5234 6234 7234 8234

9234 10 234 11 234 12 234 ... :)

If a song tells a story, in either words or melody, it probably has a form that cycles to a close point, to start again for the next verse etc. And the story being told usually defines the form of the music. This is not all that one sided really, for there's often a balance to the form that helps shape the story. So part of the challenge for composers is to balance the relationship between these two components. Story and form; that delicate balance that gets to live in all art forms I'd imagine.

Art ~ Forward motion. Forward motion is a term and concept that describes the way we create the sense of a musical line moving forward through musical time. Players talk about feeling a 'sense for forward motion in the line.' Common ways to start this sense of motion are to use an upbeat 8th note to start off a line. In advanced playing any beat can work and it's in the nature of the line that creates the sense of motion. All about mastering time? Yep, pretty much. Working with a metronome? We got clicks for you here if needed :)

Art ~ Found a bass player. In deciding what to play in various settings, when there's a bass player on the gig, as guitarists our role in the mix evolves a bit. For while everything we know still works, we should probably stay off the root pitches, the lower pitches of chords, when they are on the 6th and 5th strings. These pitches, when sounded with another instrument and octave lower, can bring the mudd in a hurry. There's also just the courtesy of staying out the way and giving everyone's voice in the group space to work in. Chord voicings that feature the 3rd or 7th as our lowest pitch is a good place to begin our search for coolness here. Again, our root position chords are fine, we just need to lay off the bass side of things.

Art ~ Four bar phrase / ~ 4 8 12 16 32 ~ Is everything musical in our vast expanse of Americana groovy musical sounds neatly wrapped up in a four bar phrase? For example, isn't the original core blues form a single four bar phrase? A 'modal blues'... as often termed by the academic musical community? Tis' is. Also, there's three, four bar phrases for the 12 bar blues form yes? The form which bases most blues songs of the last 100 years or so and most of the early rock and roll songs of the 50's? That 12 bar form? Yep, that's the 12 bar form. And yet ...

So, ever counted a four bar phrase in 4/4 by the numbers like this ?

1234 / 2234 / 3234 / 4234 ... repeats ...

1234 / 2234 / 3234 / 4234 ... etc,

So the downbeat of each of the four measures the first number of each grouping? Yep. Hopefully easy to do for you and a big step for all of us to create the absolute closure for this essential component of our resources.

When listening to the radio, cue up any station with music, find the beginning of a phrase and count along with the music in tempo with the above method; and when you get to the start of a new phrase don't be surprised if something changes in the music. Maybe new words, a new instrument in the mix, change of an accent with the beat, chord change, just something to mark the end of one phrase and the beginning of the next, each four bars one after another after another.

~ 4 8 12 16 32 ~ Of course four doubles to eight, the eight bar length of phrase also super strong and common and the basis of the two of our main compositional song forms. There's a masters project right there; history and the evolutions of our song form, i.e., sonata allegro.

wiki ~ sonata allegro

And yet ... :) There's just too many examples in live recordings, performances where there's an extra bar here or extra bar there, thrown in for good measure. Makes for a nice way to 'unsettle to then resettle back to four bar phrases. In the classical world they'd maybe write this out as a fermata. Jazz players call it a 'bird's eye.' Simply a pause in the music, to catch our breathes if no other :)

In the blues, the storyteller has the responsibility to tell the tale. If one night there's an extra bar here, next night there ... who cares :) If you're backing vocalist, just watch 'em like a hawk and adjust as needed. Plenty of ride time later :)

Quick review. So depending on various factors, when a phrase is not four bars, we might sense something amiss, feels a bit off balance perhaps? Depending on where and how we find it, remember great art comes in all shapes and colors. Sometimes it is so well crafted we don't know it for decades anyway. As time permits check out the Grammy winning "Michelle" and second lovely ballad "Yesterday", by bassman Paul McCartney of the Beatles, ... and count the measures in their phrases.

wiki ~ Grammy Awards
wiki ~ "Michelle" song
wiki ~ "Yesterday" song
wiki ~ Paul McCartney

Art ~ Four four time ~ 4 / 4 ~ 'big 4.' At the core of it all in our Americana grooves is what we can term, measure and represent numerically as 4 / 4 time. As elementary as it might ever get, it IS the pace to start. For there's just way way too much coolness in all of our Americana musics associated with 4 / 4 not be hip.

We theorists can define this ' four / four' time as the 'boom boom boom boom' of the bass drums in the marching parade. The walking bass line of quarter notes that tell the storyline of any song. That we get four beats to each measure and the quarter note gets the beat, 4/4 is most often the foundation that we all grow from as musicians, as many of early lullaby melodies we learned as kids are based in this time.

From this steady pulse we get the heartbeat of a million songs and ... the heartbeat, steady pulse for creating that sense of swing in our lines. And while swing is rightly associated with jazz, as in the 'swing era' of the 1930's, the joyful magic of swing can and does live in all of our styles. Swing is the essential game changer.

fix :)

Art ~ Five pitches. These five songs, across the top of the chapter index menu, eac

's pinnacle of shedding, and how Coltrane gets there is the story arc of this book :)

Art ~ Five songs. These five songs each have a theory 'nugget' that hints us towards an evolutionary 'jump' in our AmerAfroEuro musics.

"Scarborough" reminds us of a time before equal temper tuning. When the modes we're all the rage. "Saints" brings the 'big 4', that will hold 2 and 4, each activated by accent to put the zing in our Americana swing. "Cherokee" is the classic 1938 burner that fascinated and challenged arpeggio king Charlie Parker. And in his explorations of "Cherokee changes" discovered the 'next best thing' in the AmerAfroEuro music of his day.

"Dock" brings us a true Americana bassline story, with one chord color throughout. We use this 'one chord color idea' to 'theory leap' to modern jazz musics of today where each chord is V7, with a blistering tempo and all the V7 chord subs the pitches themselves might ever imagine. Imagine that ... :) "Giant Steps" is Coltrane's pinnacle art after 25 years of the deepest shedding, how Coltrane gets there is the story of this book :)

Art ~ Full theory analysis. The art of looking at a song and examining all of its component parts to discover the magic that glues it all together. This includes and is not limited to; musical style, key center and modulations, overall form, melodic form, pitch motions and motivic development, harmony, identify each chord in relation to melody, chord inversions and bass lines and rhythm patterns, plus whatever else shakes loose :) This is college level work that I once did with a few of the Bach Chorales in theory classes.

Art ~ Future music. Or ... music of the future ... who knows :) One way forward might be with the arpeggios created in a symmetrical format of intervals; major 3rd / minor 3rd and its reverse of minor 3rd / major 3rd. On up to #15 and beyond? Yep.

Art ~ Gear. In today's modern world of guitar wizardry, there's really no end to the ways we can process our electric signals and create all manner of sounds. With the evolution of MIDI in the 90's, a whole knew 'symphony' of sounds becomes part of a modern guitarist's resources.

The crux of this very brief discussion here is simply to make the reader aware that the actual sound we make on our guitars totally effects how we physically play and phrase our musics. So if you're a metal leaning cat learning on an acoustic guitar ... for the crux of the crux in this is our ability to create sustain of a struck note.

Various devices, such as reverbs, compressors, delays, distortions and overdrives etc., all help our notes to sustain to varying degrees. This has a big influence on how we phrase our ideas. For example, up and coming electric instrument players initially working on acoustic guitars, will not have the sustain of pitch often associated with the electric styles they dig. So be realistic and just keep shedding with what ya got, eventually you'll find and get what you need to make the big roar.

wiki ~ MIDI

'You cannot depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.'

wiki ~ Mark Twain

Art ~ Genius of working with a metronome. In a word? 'Imagination.' Among the many 'genius' aspects of working with a metronome is that it strengthens our imaginations of musics we'd like to create, while moving along in real musical beats of measured time. This is the basic strength of our own relationship with our musical art that we develop. As we get stronger, we've a better hold on shaping time. This becomes how we shape our phrases and mesh our ideas with the ideas of the with musicians in our groups.

Pushing off the bar line. A second idea here, and completely my musing, is about how we can 'push off' the clicks, creating some space, giving us a momentary window for our minds to 'suggest' what to play next. While advanced, this 'pushing off' and 'taking or catching a breath' is what improvisors do, that helps enable and bring forth that sense of having a 'lyrical' conversation in music, that captures and expresses our emotions and blends us in with those around us.

"Imagination is more important than knowledge."

wiki~Albert Einstein

Art ~ Global theory. Is it the same principles of music theory in this primer that is in most other Americana theory books? Sure is. Is this the same theory for Western European musics? Sure is. Is this the same theory and its vocabulary used by musicians of the combined AmerEuro traditions in Alaska, Seattle, San Francisco, LA, Dallas, Nashville, New York, New Orleans, London, Paris, Berlin, Moscow, Beijing and Hawaii? Plus any points in between? You betcha :)

Art ~ Great accelerators. Really? Yea, the great accelerators. There's a couple of quite common musical devices that just have a way of making music in a live performance setting seem as if the cats laying it down are pushing on an musical accelerator pedal, ramping up the energy they're putting out. No science here just really what I hear and feel happening in the music.


The first is using the fully diminished 7th chord between diatonic chords. Seems to work best between One and Two although between Two and Three is not uncommon. So, slipping a #i dim 7 between tonic One and Two or the #ii dim 7 between Two and Three.

We've a close rival accelerator in the blues, subbing a #iv dim 7 chord after Four during the second four bar phrase in the 12 bar form. So, the 6th bar.

Heading towards the rhythm side of this, another of these accelerators is the very common technique often termed the half step lead in. Then there's the gallop. A superimposing of three beats over two in various ways that get things scooting right along. Rockers should check out the longer live version of "Freebird" by Lynard Skynard. Their gallop kicks in around the 7th minute or so and onward to the close.

Art ~ Hair stand up. Ever experience something that makes your hair stand up? I know I have. And not talking scary here but more about 'thrilling.' Bring the house down. It has surely been a while now but I can to this day recall a time or two when the hair I no longer have stood right up ... and what I realized at that moment, when my hair felt that it was standing right up, was that, what I was reading or experiencing at that moment was a universal truth for me, pathway, that all went to the core of my being. We, as sentient beings, can have this experience time to time, hope this is stand up 'true' is true for you too, just makes life a lot easier :)

Art ~ Half step lead in. Of all of our techniques and treatments, this half step chromatic motion is quite possibly the hands down king of making anything swing. How? We can use the half step to accent our rhythms. By being 'so close' to the next chord, we can time our rhythm to the last possible instant before resolving, maxing our swing potential if we can hear and feel it.

For fingerstyle chord plucking, there may not be a tighter way to articulate our rhythmic ideas. The basic idea here is using a half step motion from above or below to get to our target chord. 99 times out of 100 it is the same chord shape. And surely thanks for that as it would be some nifty hand moves to get it all to work. Like on the piano keys? Exactly.

Art ~ Hammer - on. An age old technique whereby the sound of the like is created and energized by the fingerboard hand finger hammering on the desired note. Very common in blues. With electric gear it's generally easier to create and a way into the realm of electronic feedback.

Art ~ Hear the theory. "Take out pencil and paper and jot this down ..." Ever hear your teacher say that to your class? Surely at some point yes? Well what if they then proceed to play a melody at the piano and ask you to write it down in standard notation ...

This is a common exercise in legit music schools often included in music theory termed ear training. When I got to go to college, my Monday and Wednesday theory classes were paired up with Tuesday and Thursday ear training classes, a part of which was sight singing, or sight screaming for me as my reading skills of standard notation with my voice were zero during this period.

In UYM ~ EMG, this translates into hearing the theory as we listen to music being performed. Live, on recordings whatever, as the music goes along we can identify in theory terms what is being laid down. And this challenge, like so many self taught American players, I totally loved. For me, the fascination initially centered on hearing the chord changes.

If you're just getting into this sort of exercise, maybe start start with trying to consistently hear between major and minor chords. The top or downbeat of a 12 bar blue form to strengthen your sense of musical forms. Chord progressions in any musical style are a good challenge too. Finding the melody caps off the process.

Art ~ Horn lines. Many of our most cherished voices on Americana style guitar music are created by artists that have spoken of searching to achieve a 'horn like' quality to their own lines. So like trying to make pitches created by strings and frets sound like air through a flute ... ? Pretty much. And overcoming the physical difference of strings to wind is a key basis of this transformation. In a word? The concept of playing 'legato' meaning ...? Smoothly connected notes to express the emotion we're getting across. Like our speaking voices? Exactly.

How to do? For starters, just be conscious of this quality and work to smooth out the sound of your pitches. Hold notes for their full time value. This is especially true for bass players. And surely listen to the players you love, or perhaps some of those suggested here, and try to capture their legato and horn qualities. Do remember that good ideas for phrasing can come from any instrument for it is the artist that creates the emotion that speaks through their chosen instrument. And if all else fails ...? Well then just add more vibrato !

Art ~ How it comes to you. So much of our learning as American musicians often comes from what we pick up along the way of our musical adventures while getting around and performing with other players. So how the information first comes to you, tends to shape your eventual overall perspective of our entire theory system.

A big part of the learning method here is swapping letter names for numbers, learning a 'numerical theory.' If your way is by letters, keep it for sure. Add in the numbers thing, for it makes things easier in a few important ways. But if thinking letter names gets you to the right chords and bass notes etc., right on. Whatever works best is best in making our own Americana music way.

So oftentimes this becomes an organization of the theory whole tamale. Which of course becomes your own recipe of this nourishing culinary delight from which to imagine and bring to life the art in your heart. Here in Essentials the over arching goal is to create as complete picture of the entire resource asap. A reverse engineering of the usual learning method, i.e., piece by piece. We can achieve this over arching view by knowledge and understanding of the 12 pitches of the chromatic scale. For there are 'no more ... no less' as they say and all our musics comes from this loop of pitches.

by the numbers
music and math

Stylewise depending, a cat might not ever get to them all, but the awareness of this perimeter of the theory created by these pitches is the goal. For in this way we've a structure upon which to build and understand anything that might ever come along in our musical travels and adventures. For until a greater division of the octave goes mainstream, the 12 pitches of the chromatic scale is all we get yet ... there's the blues hue yes?

So however whatever musical knowledge you have today has come along to you, consider finding a way to catalogue it within this chromatic scheme of things. On one end of this spectrum might be understanding how we extract a certain five pitches from the 12. On the other end is probably the 'anything from anywhere' concept, the long term goal for the jazz leaning artist.

Art ~ Improvising musicians. In so many circles of the Americana music scene, the players are not reading the music as they perform it. Folk players might have the words of their song with chord letters above written out. When I play bass with my blues crew I'll have my notebook to refer to about the bass lines of songs or to make production notes. I've yet to see any kind or rock'n roll act reading on the stand. And in today's hip hop and rap, a lot is sequenced so no reading required. So a lot of rote memorizing going on. I saw a jazz group last eve that was reading the music they were performing. Most likely also reading through the chord changes for the solos. Not at all uncommon.

So the majority of our American music is performed by rote, from memory that was learned by repetition. Surely the improv / soloing is most often created spontaneously by the players from their existing knowledge. So this improvisation aspect of our Americana musics reflects the earlier times of Americana history. 'Do what ya can with what you've got on hand' till something better comes along. And for those that want to do the work, something surely will.

wiki ~ rote learning

'I'm always thinking about creating. My future starts when I wake up every morning. Every day I find something creative to do with my life.'

wiki ~ Miles Davis

Art ~ Improv tricks. Probably shouldn't include this in a theory book but we all artists have them so why not eh? Improv tricks are 'shortcuts' to coolness. Try them out, keep what works and pass it along. And try to remember the golden rule of improvisation ... 'that if we think from the root of the chord, we'll never get lost.'

That in any situation really, that using just the five notes of the 'correctly rooted' penatonic scale will give us a group of pitches to create a melodic idea from, with no bad pitches. ~ C pentatonic over C major, Db minor pentatonic over a Db minor chord etc.

When soloing on any given major chord, play its relative minor, so think A minor over C major. ~

Move one the one 'blues / butter' shape to cover the three chords of a basic 12 bar blues. ~

Leave out the Two chord in Bebop. ~

That said, play Dorian over V7, using D Dorian over G7, so playing the Two chord instead of Five. ~

Art ~ In time please ... :) Simply encourages you to do whatever is being discussed ... in musical time. So most times this means finding a tempo, finding 2 and 4 in that tempo, count yourself into this groove and then just doing what is suggested. All we're doing is putting our idea, whatever it may be or concerned with, into the magic of music's gravitys. And that makes all the difference to not only strengthen our physical skills with our instruments but also to create space to give our creative, our muse, a chance to 'suggest' ... what's next.

Art ~ Infusing blue. Infusing a bit of the blues sounds into any non blues settings is super common in our musics, often providing a bit of character Americana to the mix. The blue notes are the true all Americana spice that changes the way music sounds and gets made. And while there's a whole style of the blues, in every nook and cranny of our musical style spectrum we'll can find and dig a bit of the blue musical color sifted into the mix of what's going down. In folk it'll often be a bit of a pitch slide or vibrato in the voice between the minor blue third and the major third. In any kind of rock and country rock, minor pentatonic with some bends will feed this blues hue bulldog. Jazz historically comes right out of the traditional blues from wayback, so it is in its DNA.

Art ~ Inside / outside. The idea of inside / outside is simply about the diatonic scheme of things. Inside means we are creating our ideas with the pitches of a key center. Outside implies that we are borrowing pitches from other key centers to use in creating ideas within the original key. The other five pitches? Yep. Whole schools of free playing are based on the 12 tones as the key center pitches. Other times we just borrow a bit to blur the tonal direction and create some surprises in the music.

Art ~ Interesting art. A rather subjective heading here but included as just food for thought. What makes interesting art to each of us? How does our own mood of the day influence our view of interesting art? How do we create interesting art?

wiki ~ art
wiki ~ the creative process

Art ~ Intro / head / solos / head / outro. An 'in a nutshell' idea, this is the basic format for jazz artists in performance, especially when the group is working a 'casual' performance. A song is chosen. There's an intro, usually four or eight bars, the melody of the song is played once, often twice depending. Each member of the group improvises a chorus or two through on the song's form and harmony. Once completed the melody is restated and the 'outro' brings the performance of this song to its close. Pick a new song, repeat the process. Can't decide on a song, play a 12 bar blues. Don't want to play blues? Learn more songs :)

Art ~ In the know. Can't speak for everyone of course but I don't ever recall anyone ever forgetting the theory once they really learned it by rote. So once 'in the know, always in the know?' Hopefully that is the case yes. And depending on one's own core intellectual structure of the theory, once in place, any new data that comes along from any source throughout our careers can be added to the same knowledge base for later recall.

In a nutshell once we know; the # of pitches in the chromatic scale, major / minor, diatonic scale formula, about intervals and loops, how scales become arpeggios, how arpeggios become chords, how to spell chords, understand diatonic chord motions and chord progressions, know the 'other' five pitches and the blue notes, have a sense of a four bar phrase and musical form and can find 2 and 4 in the music from any radio station, when cats come along talking about the modes, chord inversions, altered scales, symmetrical scales, polytonality, polyrhythms and subdivisions of the beat, jazz and on and on, we've got a real basis to explore these new musical ideas from, for 'we're in the know' of the theory basis of the Americana fabric of musics.

Art ~ Ionian mode. Skipping forward a few thousand years from the Divje cave bear flute into the near wayback to discover Ionian character melodies in the early vocal masters in France, preserved by the Benedictine Monks of Fontgombault Abbey in writing and recreated yet today in what is often termed plainchant. Next to the then newly evolving pianos and acceptance of equal temper tuning and the mastery of J.S. Bach and his "Well Tempered Clavier" collection of Ionian and Aeolian pairings. Now nearing one hundred years old, its modern counterpart today could be jazz legend Charlie Parker's compositions, collected in The Charlie Parker Omnibook created by Jamie Aebersold and Ken Slone. Written in standard notation as transcribed by and first published in 1973, of the 55 original Parker pieces in the work, 51 are also written with the Ionian mode as the core group of pitches. So it just makes historical sense to follow these leads in creating this Essentials view of the theory from the Ionian perspective with no dis ever ever intended whatsoever to Aeolian centered artists :)

wiki ~ the piano
wiki ~ "Well Tempered Clavier"
wiki ~ Benedictine Monks of Fontgombault Abbey

And especially in this work as there's a new way forward theorywise that is Lydian ~ Dorian based, not Ionian. By following George Russell's Lydian Chromatic Concept work first published in 1977 and my learning of the #15 colortone in 1984, in my system the #15 becomes a portal opening into a new dimension for our core 12 pitch equal temper tuned resource for composition and improvisation. Where Russell and I differ is that my work is more symmetrically arpeggio based. I've simply employed the two possible tertian arpeggio cycles; major 3rd / minor 3rd and minor 3rd / major 3rd, and created a new system that gets that ol' devil tritone, the now ancient 'musica diabolus', if not completely off the palette, integrated in a new way as the #11, thus tonally softened from its traditional place in our musics.

wiki ~ Lydian Chromatic Concept / George Russell

As the essential tension within V7, in reshaping the two pitch tritone we loose our dominant chord abilities to direct the music; for V7 is the traffic cop for a good portion of our intact library of musics today. So no clear tritone, you're kidding right? As once a 'tritone king' chord substitutor myself, it's a crazy way to think I know. Truly so as the 'sheets of sound' substitutions created and established by Coltrane in the later 1950's becomes today's dominant 'blurring' of standard arpeggiated harmonic motions, creating what is termed here as the 'chromatic buzz.' Which, when I think in terms of what the world needs now from its musics, just might be a Darwinian 'withering end' for music created in our AmerEuro tradition. I think of the otherworldly spatial coolness of musical sounds that Dr. Spock was jammin, on some sort of far out string rig in a Star Trek movie as the healing music for Urantia. And surely that I, not being able to create this chromatic buzz of musical sounds and thus feel its magical vibe, am just really jealous, yet I have always loved a singable melody :)

wiki ~ sheets of sound
wiki ~ Charles Darwin
wiki ~ Dr. Spock
wiki ~ Urantia

Art ~ Jamming. As the term implies, we're having fun playing music with other cats, artists, sitting in, with jam tracks, with a band, a drummer, Franz and all his kin whatever, we be jammin' with something with a beat that we get to 'lean our own mojo into.' For that's what makes the 'jam' in jamming ... I think :)

The only real trick I know in this I learned from my drumming buddy the Dutchman and it involves quite a bit of ongoing concentration to work the magic. For oftentimes jamming goes on for many, many minutes without stopping in a fairly repetitive manner. The beat goes on and on and on as the saying goes.

The explanation of the trick to jamming, to paraphrase Dutch's quote ... "just keep playing the same thing till ya get to the end of the phrase (usually 4 bars), then alter it just a wee bit and add this 'new alteration' into the next four bar phrase, which at the end of it gets altered again a wee bit which carries over into the next 4 bar phrase ... and on and on and on :)

That the alterations for each new phrase come organically from the previous one glues it all together And if 4 bars goes by with nothing new play, just keep jamming and sure enough something will come along.

Check out the 'off to the horizon jam focus' of intent of an original 6 string master.

wiki ~ jam sessions
wiki ~ Pythagoras

Art ~ Jazz it up. This expression has been a part of our American lingo for probably a hundred years or so now. For what came first ... the jazzing it up or the jazz ? Either way, jazzing it up here implies the same ideas, just to 'do something to whatever', to give it a bit of jazz, or even pizazz, as folks used to say.

Mostly we 'jazz up' everything in our everyday lives. From a splash of cream in our coffee to wearing some funky shoes, to re-spicing up our foods and the ever evolving slang of conversations, many love to 'jazz up' their everyday doings; the creative spirit in each of us seeking something new, unique or have fun.

In our own musics, we jazz it up by the nature of the creative beings we organically are. It's just how we're wired. In our studies here, chances are we're just jazzing up what's already under our fingers. Most times this correlates to a new pitch or chord, rhythm or song. And as we add or subtract pitches from our music, we can see that change in musical style, and project this into a spectrum of styles, each one 'jazzing up the one next to it, simply by virtue of a new pitch or two, and what new they can do, as we slide back and forth between one and twelve unique pitches.

So evolving any style, by adding in elements from another style, could be thought of as jazzing it up. We often hear this in the music a couple of easy ways. Add a new Latin rhythm to a song, add in a blue note pitch or two to the melody, play blues in an open tuning, add in a bit more swing into the groove, by accenting 2 and 4 a wee bit more, use the upper color tones to enhance a chord, add in old timey cliche jazz ideas into other styles, use the half step lead in more frequently, and chromatically enhance whatever music we're working with. This line of reason could go on of course and bring in potentially endless new ways, as we as artists each choose how to 'jazz up' our own creative explorations and the reshaping of our art.

Deeper into theory to 'jazz it up' ideas; add in some risk to the tonality and metrical time of the music being created to make all less predictable. Again, open and modal tunings can do this nicely for music from the folkier points of our style spectrum. Maybe change up the starting points in melodic phrases. Discover new ways to move from One to Four, maybe through different bass pitch motions, then work a new way back. Evolve Four into Two and explore the Two / Five motions. Pepper in some chromatics to your melodies, use 'even 1/8 notes' to add some new styled swing sparkle to the lines. Down this road there might be more chromatics and faster tempos too of today's modern guitarist.

Art ~ a musical career ~ non-performing musicians ~ ~ jobs in music ~ working in showbiz ~ $$$ ~ making a living in music / showbiz. "There's huge loot to be made in music and show biz generally, and with its trickle down economical systems ... we 'just might get some too."Anonymous

A career in music is a lifetime of making friends and together making art happen. For some, the performance of the music is not the focus. And the sooner we each realize that, the more opportunities we see with our own given skill set. If you are a performer, then you know it and will look for a stage to present your art.

So does understanding your music help in getting some work in showbizz? Could very well, unless inadvertently we somehow 'lord over and high brow' your theory knowledge to somebody, who might be a bigger star than you and is not yet hip to the changes, i.e., has a learning block. Then it probably yea, it won't help. For art is for all, inclusive to a degree we each define and decide, or not, to be a part of and contribute. The 'live and let live' and just getting along with one another credo? Yep.

Otherwise, with a good attitude and art vibe, no limit to where knowledge of understanding the theories of your music can help a musical career along not only for yourself but other artists too. The global budget for showbizz is probably around a trillion bucks a year give or take a few dollars. Big green pie of loot for sure and some of it is local where we each be. For, we all love to be entertained yes? There's a superwide spectrum of job opportunities in the making of music, creating its community and sharing it in showbizz. While most of the jobs are volunteer at first based on your own natural enjoyment of your music, there's paying gigs in all manner of showbiz, everything from creating the day to day life accommodations for touring artists to becoming a touring artist ourselves. All the tech involved in shows and the capturing of a performance, the amount of this work which might have doubled from the 70's onward thanks to the addition of video, to the studio folks who arrange, edit and polish takes for the art folks to package up as the 'final' that becomes the merch that creates the 'memory of' for the new owner. There's just a ton of wires in all of this and the bizz always needs folks that know where they go and can hang with the talent. There's all the 'legal-eze' people and its systems of copyrights with intellectual property and ownership, all the monetary accounting for those risks associated with a bigger slice of the green pie, on into the promotion of the musical arts and all the executive that evolves with stewardship of the venues for all the stars that make the big loot, who are elevated by the entourage of critics in the media who help make them stars in the first place. There's work and paydays all along in show bizz :)

For even Coltrane's 'sheets of sound', among the most prominent steps in our Americana theory evolutions that is the pinnacle as presented here in Essentials, was coined by a music critic that provides a bit of closure to the shedding process pioneered by Mr. Coltrane. For us theorists reading here, this 'theory capture' phrase by a passionate listener, probably didn't realize the complex organization of the theory that was being sounded out.

wiki ~ sheets of sound

Does it matter? Maybe but was does matter is that this music critic who wrote reviews for this publication that worked out of this building all were energized by the magic of 'a life in showbizz.' While surely not for everyone, music is life and life is music. When life is love with music too, all is groovy. And who knows, your theory knowledge in whatever capacity you're finding employment in, just might help to spark finding that next puzzle piece for yourself or someone else or even finding that 'lost chord', now wouldn't that be cool.

wiki ~ "The Lost Chord"
"To keep the music alive, is the most important thing in my life."
wiki ~ Lorraine Gordon

Art ... 'just one time.' This idea is about flipping bits that might not ever get flipped because the the suggestion 'to do' is just too wacky to contemplate for the 'serious' artist. Needless to say the suggestions all be here because I heard them from, yes a serious artist, somewhere along the way. Ya think even I could make all of this up? No way amigo. The crazy part is that even doing these suggestions once, cognitive bits get flipped and our arms may get a better hold of the resources; intellectually as well as when hanging with other artists and we be ... 'making art happen.'

rehearse the band by everyone vocalizing / singing their parts

Art ~ The leading tone / major Seven. The leading tone becomes a bit of the North Star for pointing us in the direction to a key center and its central tonic pitch. Even before the harmony becomes truly codified through equal temper tuning and fully involves the leading tone in V7 harmonies, the sense of direction and tension it creates shaped the melodic world. In the Americana blues sounds, we commonly find the leading tone within V7 paired with the major 3rd to make the 'two pitch tritone within.' While 11 times out of 10 in the melody line we love the b7 we need the leading tone 7th to make the principle blues chord. More blues rub? Yep.

Art ~ Kaboom. "If some art and music makes your hair stand straight up, its gotta be a true for you ... and that's what counts." In Essential's art, 'kaboom' is just a fun word that means the top of our heads has just turned into, and is now eminating, very bright colors. This happened because we just read or learned, or figured something out, that we never knew before. Because we just learned something we never knew.

It all just goes kaboom like ...

'wow ... I never knew that ... = kaboom :)

And now that we know, our understanding and perspective of what we we're doing has evolved forevermore, to a new and heightened level of awareness, understanding and perspective forward.

'Kaboom' of course is also the name of several bands, probably lots of bands worldwide now, one of which, back in the 90's here in AK, had some dear friends. The keyboard player loaned me a hook for a pop tune, which crazy enough, up getting written yesterday.

Art ~ Learning juice. One thing understanding your music and learning music theory can do is get our inner juices going to be curious for learning itself. That our music theory itself is perfect in many ways but so is the theory of anything really when one takes a more active interest in their chosen topic. And music / math theory for sure. Music and math yes? So as we each explore on our own terms, the impassioned learner will discover by their own volition; by their own energies or learning juice, the silent mathematical architecture of the music they want to create. For once even a basic theory understanding is in place, there's really no limit to where and how new ideas can come from to enhance our own creative artistic doings. That our music theory is fairly global now, and been the same for a couple of hundred years, gives us an awful lot to look into and discover. We just have to be curious and ask new questions. Why, even the 'why' questions often suffice to keep the juices flowing seeking new knowledge.

For younger cats coming up, from later teen years through their 30's or so, there's a built in accelerator to our species that can empower us to supernova achieve whatever it is we are challenging ourselves with. I guess we'd call that a built in juicer :) Regardless, it is this inner energizer that makes us want to figure it out, get to the bottom of it, and then get to the bottom of that, to conquer by thinking what our mind has imagined. So ... how much gumption and learning juice you got?

Art ~ Learning tunes ( songs ) / melodies. In all of this understanding music we keep in mind that when we play music for fun with friends wherever we're going to play songs. So the best way to learn about your own music is to learn about the songs you'd like to play. All else flows from this age old way of having fun with music. Become the artist, develop a voice and play and share the songs dear to your heart and create community through music with all whom may want to hear :)

In this Essentials music theory book, a core foundation of the learning and method is based on getting a dozen or more of our core Americana melodies under our fingers, in the same key in the same fret position on our instruments. And while there's a written chart for each of the melodies included, the learner is encouraged to sound these out by ear. As many of these lines can go way back in our own memories, they're just a cool way to begin strengthening all our skills with playing melodies initially rote learned thus from the heart.

And while we might not ever 'gig' these lines, they can be humourous quotes within other lines, easy to run around in 12 keys and above all, in their simplicity we get a better chance to interpret thus express them our own way and make the rhythm SWING :) For if I can get a three or four pitch lick to really swing in a 2 and 4 pocket by ear with a lot of my heart and soul phrasing, then I've found my way into the art of Americana swing. For once we each 'feel' the swing inside and can coax it forth out of thin air with just the clicks of 2 and 4, a new way forward emerges for the creative musician in so many cool ways for players of all of our musical styles. That there is no easier way to do this than with a simple melody we learned as kids is probably the core tenet of this entire learning method.

Art ~ 'hey ... leave the root out ...' Sounds as if we've a bass player on the gig, right on. As guitarists we now gain the option of not worrying about the root of the chord. And even if all my chords are root position and I always think from the root, I still have the option to de-emphasize my sounding of the root pitch in what I play. Leaving the root note of chords out opens a new window of giant harmonic solutions we theorists generally call 'inversions' thanks to the bassists of the world :)

Art ~ 'less is always more ...' Time and time again this becomes true yet again unless we're talkin' love then more is ever enough :) And then there's tough love for those in need of more 'love of own self and respect', so as to have the tool to shape from within.

"Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication."

wiki ~ Leonardo da Vinci

Art ~ Listening. Our listening process is our ongoing active participation in the creation of musical art. And when our listening to music makes us move, and even to 'true dance' a bit, we've the closure of an intent of the artform. When we begin to sing along with the music we're listening to, in a sense we get to join the band. And everyone wants to be in the band yes ?

Foolish aside, an easy way to join up is to listen and sing along in some way with the music. We've all done this now near forever anyway, and when combined with listening, a relay of our whole human communication mechanism is lighting and connecting up an awful lot of our physio dots, to make this most natural of abilities a possibility. So ...

Those who have an interest, will in some manner do this over and over and over and over till the phrases of music are rote memorized. For that's when we begin to sound good. That we know our parts by heart, that helps us play from our heart. And when we do that, everyone, with an interest, wants to listen. And once they do, they begin to sing along, and voila, here we go again :)

A next step for musicians is to play what they sing on their chosen instrument. And, play it in the manner that they sing it. No easy task here, but surely somewhere right under our fingers. For a basis in near all Americana musics is to make up our part as the music moves along. While we usually call this jamming, artists that do this often, and with the same players, create that ultimate, live magic' for, you guessed it, folks to sing along and join in with.

And then there's the dancers. Dancers are great listeners of music. We listen and sing and dance along, and sure enough, we've joined the band for those moments in time. And lest we forget that musical time, while measured up like clock time, is a trasporting time too. For aural listening to musical colors energizes a body to motion, and to stay in motion. And in doing so, join us today into the spontaneous creative process of community that is timeless.

what's your interest ?
phrases in music
rote memorize
wiki ~ time
wiki ~ e=mc2
musical time
measured time

Art ~ Local universe. This is a lot of things really, the span of related topics pretty vast. Bottom line here simply becomes; developing the ability to adapt to what is available in your own 'local universe' to get your show on the road. In a perfectly pure world of music theory, the seven pitch diatonic realm is the first local universe. Five note pentatonics and the five related blue notes? Simply the core of our true Americana magics. From these origins the build process adds equal tuning for the chords and voila ... off to the stars :)

Art ~ Localized playing. Localized playing is about staying in one area of the fingerboard and running an idea through various filters. Usually this 'area' is four of five frets. Lots of example options here: running a folk song's melody and chords in open position, using a capo to change keys keeps the chords local, running a turnaround through a cycle of keys in say 5th position, or play a jazz song chock full of mostly diatonic chords in a localized area etc.

Musical lines developed across the strings within a few frets are localized in comparison to a more linear shaped idea that all happens on one or two strings, created by moving up or down the neck as needed. Jazz guitar players often dig localized playing as tempos accelerate and the changes start to whiz on by, minimizing physical distances and motions can ramp up the fun and success in playing through the changes.

Art ~ Loops of pitches. This idea is a super core concept for our Essentials Americana music theory based on the realization that anything pitch wise is part of a closed loop of elements. If we carry any musical sequence out long enough and maintain its interval integrity, it will always close back upon its staring point. Really? Yep. No exceptions? Nope. Do the pitches have to be equal temper tuned to form perfect loops? No, any tuning is cool. And while any arpeggio loops will perfectly close, we'll need the precision of equal temper tuned pitches to stack up and make the loops for chords.

and R O ... !

Art ~ Loops of chords. Really just the two ways to go here. We've loops of chord shapes within a diatonic key center in relation to the fingerboard. And we've the letter name / numerical chord progressions of songs that cycle back to their beginings / form etc.

Probably just a fancy name as loops of chords usually turn out to be chord progressions for songs created within a key center. For combined with the musical form of a song, most songs cycle through their form and the chords are the same each time, forming a loop of sorts. Keep in mind that in most of our styles, it is motion from One to Four and back getting most of the attention for writing Americana songs. For it is in these two diatonic points that we get a near perfect similarity of aural color that provides the two main arc points upon which we drape a song's storyline to engage and perk the curiosities of our listeners. One and Four of both major or minor? Yep.

Folk loops. In one key center; One / Four / Five in major or minor or a mixing of both.

Blues loops. In one key center; One / Four / Five in major with all chords being a V7 / Five chord type. In one key center; One / Four / Five in minor with all chords being a minor 7th or Two chord type. Endless variations mainly through chord substitution.

Country loops. In one key center; One / Four / Five in major or minor or a mixing of both.

Metal loops. Perfect 5th's moved in the diatonic pitches of a song's parent scale, which is most often the minor pentatonic group plus various tritones.

Rock loops. In one key center; One / Four / Five in major or minor or a mixing of both. Blues based loops are very common i.e., "Johnny B. Goode" and forward.

Pop loops. Mostly in one key center; One / Four / Five in major or minor or a mixing of both, some modulation and borrowing of chords.

Jazz loops. Multiple key centers; Two / Five as a cell or as a fully resolving cadential motion to any point within the seven diatonic major and minor pitches, a mixing of both and all five of the chromatic points in between or ...and endless variety of loops of chords that become vamps for whatever grooves we can conjure.

Art ~ Love songs. So an easy way to understand the art of the love song, in theory, practice and day to day is to simply quote some lyrics, these by Paul McCartney; who states that ... "Some people want to fill the world with silly love songs.' And then a bit further on, "what's wrong with that ... I need to know, 'cause here I go ... again ..." Love makes the world go round they say, and I agree. There's so much magic in love for everyone there just doesn't have to be a reason to do it. For it is the reason that is always in season ... :)

wiki ~ "Silly Love Songs"

Art ~ Lyrics. The words of a song tell its story and how that story is told, often becomes the recognizable craftsmanship of the author. Not really sure there's a music theory for writing lyrics except the age old mantra; work hard at your craft and good things will eventually happen.' To this we add the idea that, after we write lyrics even a time or two, we develop that second sense of confidence to know we've got them right, or are getting close to having them, and we just need to keep working at it.

Surely some folks have a knack for lyrics. Like rhyming words and sharing ideas. Probably a combination of just living life, staying receptive to the ideas, and working hard at one's craft to get that wee bit of extra luck that comes from just plain old hard stickin' to it, work that energizes the magic of the next line or hook, and then of course to remember to write it down when ideas come along. And they will.

Along this line of thinking there's a true blue Americana song titled "I Let A Song Go Out Of My Heart ..."And, it happens to all of us at some point. So ya just gots to figure out your own ways to make sure not to lose your ideas as they come along. All of us who write lyrics and compose know this feeling of loss. But in the losing might be another song ! My fix to this has worked a time or two; learn to write basic notation. Dig out this timeless, classic song by Duke Ellington, learn it through and through and know that when this hook 'happens to you', and it will, you're in some very good company :)

For instrumentalists. Simply reading through the lyrics of a melody and song a time or two to familiarize the song's overall intent can deepen the whole expressive process dramatically. And if there's any sort of love involved at any point in the process, kaboom again in emotional expression potential. For while we sound out a melody we've rote learned, and are able to imagine the words of poetry and love along with the pitches, nice things just seem to happen with the song's phrases as they unfold in performance of the song.

Listeners hear this and respond in kind, all depending on the setting of the music being performed. 'Make you want to jump and shout', 'shed a tear, murmur 'an amen' in acknowledgement of the tale they too know. My own best tune in this instrumental melody / thinking the words is "My Foolish Heart." And I honestly do not remember all the words each time or even try to really. Yet there a couple of phrases of words that get me every time :) That in this song all of the magic is already composed right in, a moving melody with words from the heart, that we all yearn to speak one day, assures success all around. Just have to push the buttons. Takeaway? Find the words of your instrumentals and read them at least once, get a closer take on the composer's intent. It's just good karma too, knowing a composer's intent, working to bring that with yours.

wiki ~ "It Could Happen To You"
wiki ~ "I Let A Song Go Out Of My Heart."
wiki "My Foolish Heart" song

Art ~ The magics in our music is many things. Simply the energy that we each can bring to the music, it's creation, making and sharing in creating community. Into the wayback to find the times when there was no exacting science in the world and folks just thought that the coolness of the 'aligning of the stars' the magical order of the universe. Turns out there was more to it; the beginnings of science being about the measuring, thus comparing, of elements, of whatever someone was curious about. How and why 'a something' worked, and did what is did, or does, the way it did or does it :)

In our musics, scientific though has centered on the tuning of our 12 pitches over the last few millennia. And of course to build these pitches into instruments to sound them out. That equal temper tuning science was already in place when electricity came back in the mix, there's been modern developments ever since of new music making devices. Today's MIDI magics having created a whole new realm for the creative.

Theorizing the magic. "Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain ... " 'Oh oh ... did we just reveal the source of the magic?' In doing so, is its 'magical powers' somehow diminished? Sometimes surely but as performing musicians ... ? Na, we're cool. Really? Sure, just ask any performer what they are thinking when they step on stage under the lights and say hi to the audience, tell them about the next song. If it's a romantic story that they wrote about a friend, as are 90 out of a 100 tunes are themed, believe you me they ain't thinking about music theory :)

So why know theory? Knowing the theory helps in preparing this song for its performance, especially if there's a few players in the mix. Their combined experience as players, articulated theoretically with common vocabularies can just make things go way way quicker, saving precious time in building up a song. And if the song to be played is written by someone not in your group, the theory simply helps to decipher and interpret their puzzle. For when the lights come up and there is an audience waiting to be entertained, the last thing we're thinking of is the theory of it all; we're conjuring up pure magic and putting it out there for all to join in and enjoy.

Diatonic magic or not? As lovers of music, when we hear some music we dig, or some one thing in the music that we dig, as theorists we often want to know just what it was that perked our curiosities. If it is an aural aspect of the music; a special melody note, a cool single chord or progression of chord changes, the initial basis of our investigations of this magical sound is very often; is the pitch or pitches in this music diatonic to the key center that the song is written in. And upon that basis we have a sure footed pathway to explore the there and beyond.

Listen for the magic. A fairly recent magical discovery and trick that came along is about listening for the 'next' line when creating music. Just turns out that if I leave like almost every note out for a beat or two, even a full measure or so, take a breath etc., somehow magically a pitch or so comes up in my imganiation that sparks my next line.

Further along in this, when creating lines with a half time feel, usually half notes in a brighter jazzy tempo, the same sort of listening magic reveals in my consciousness additional pitches, phrases, melodies etc., that 'magically' fit right into whatever and wherever the rhythm section is at in the song. Very cool.

I discovered the potential in the Hal Garper work, "Forward Motion", and this magic originates with Dizzy Gillespie, through Mr. Garper to me to you :)

Now how's that for some magic ! :)

wiki ~ Dizzy Gillespie

Color blue magic. Understanding the blue magic is a piece of cake really, for in theory we just be rubbing two distinctly different pitched notes together. And as the guitar has strings, we bend pitches too. So for example, in a blues in 'G', we rub a 'Bb' up against a 'B.' Those who hear and make this sound in a confident manner know the near instantaneous emotional, physical and aural electricity that results, the juice that prompts, and even demands, a true life testimony from the artist. Luckily we get a few of these magical blue pitch rubs we call the blue notes, to knit together into melodies.

So depending on who counts the thing off and on what bandstand, our blue colors just might enjoy the widest degree of inclusion, within the widest spectrum of all of our Americana style and on through their genres, then on to their grenres and on to the uniquely personal stories that we each get to tell.

"The noblest art is that of making others happy."

wiki ~ P.T. Barnum

Art ~ Major scales. Linked here as a hub of sorts, the diatonic major scale is the core perspective of the writing here in Essentials. Every theory text I have and know of except one, writes about our music theory with the major scale as its center point. Absolutely zero anything new here. From this basis of the 'diatonic scale' and its relatives; natural minor and the modes, all manner of organic music and theories grow and flow and provide a perspective and all the way back in music history.

Art ~ Melodic treatments / filters. The idea of 'treatments' and 'filters' for our pitches is simply a way to discuss the theories of what we composers of Americana do with our 12 pitches. We can; loop, interval sequence, group, motive sequence, permutate, arpeggiate, stack into chords, blusify, chromaticize, whole tone and diminish to any degree of anything to our hearts content :)

For example, here in 'Essentials' there's often a nudge for the reader to 'run an idea' through say a blues filter, or through an interval cycle of pitches, diatonic cycle of arpeggios or chords to create a sequence of any sort.

Melodic treatments help us 'e x p a n d' a musical motif into larger, fuller sections or musical forms when composing songs. All depending of course, even just a hook of a couple of pitches is for some cats all they need to initiate their creative process. Mostly through a trial and error process sparked by the hook, we 'treat' the idea into a phrase, two or four bars? Can I slip this phrase into a blues form? Or is it better suited to an eight bar length and into a 32 bar form? Or is it filterable through a series of tonal centers for improvisational exploration and jamming, becoming its own song on down the road?

This idea of treatment or filter is a way into musical eras and styles. For how composers did certain things with the pitches based on the resources they had at hand in any particular time in history creates over arching eras of musical styles. For example, Euro baroque era composers loved to sequence a melodic idea in a diatonic treatment of their pitches. That Euro classical composers had better tuned harmonies and instruments (piano), to modulate their ideas to any of the 12 key center colors, gave rise to more adventurous storytelling. Americana ragtime players did include both of these and also cycled a lot of V7 chords, blues hued all the time. Like Charlie Parker with the bebop? Yep, Bird, bebop and the blues.

wiki ~ Baroque music
wiki ~ Classical music
wiki ~ Ragtime music
wiki ~ Charlie Parker

Art ~ Memorize / rote learning. Surely among our most remarkable people attributes is our ability to remember all sorts of information in all sorts of forms for recall at all other points in time. No surprise really then that it turns out that the easiest and quickest way into the music theory is through rote memorization. We just go over the material till we have it memorized. Then, when need some bit of info we just think of it, remember it and put it to use. We hopefully recreate this process with lots of cool and essential things in our lives.

wiki ~ rote

For most of our memorization with theory, once we learn it, it sticks around. There's just a dozen letter names, numbers counting up to 15 and a couple of numeric and symbol sequences. These formulas apply to really any of our music styles. This memorization can go very quickly for those so energized. Once in place the ability to discuss music theories and follow right along with discussions, wherever they may be, for exploring and finding new ideas ramps up dramatically.

Here's is a suggested first ordering of music theory ideas to be rote memorized. Try STGC for more pathways.

12 pitches in the chromatic scale

interval formula major scale 1 1/2 1 1 1 1/2

pitches of the C major scale CDEFGABC

natural relative minor pitches of the C major scale


these letter name pitches are the white keys on a piano

turn a C major scale into its C major arpeggio


spell seven diatonic triads from arpeggio


Divide rhythms in 4 / 4 time

1 whole note = 2 half notes = 4 quarter notes = 8 eighth notes = 16 sixteenth notes.

Measure number count a four bar phrase

1234 2234 3234 4234 and repeat

... off to a good start ?

Art ~ Minor. The dusty side of everyday life that we wash away with our music. The minor colors are a somber collection that reflects our more sorrowful leaning heartfelt emotions. Yet while there's a sadness there's also passion, compassion, empathy and a longing for our evolutions as sentient beings in a global community.


wiki ~ Art Blakey

Art ~ Mix and match. Crazy idea but once the spectrum of pitches is understood in regards to musical style, and the harmonic substitutions start flowing, along with the sequencing of ideas, we begin the potentially endless process of mixing and matching what we find in music and the musical sounds we dig. This is a process that contributes to build one's own artistic signature. For in mix and match we'll find the ways we each dig to express the art in our hearts.

Art ~ 'Modern guitar.' The idea of modern in the title of this work is about developing a theoretical perspective of how select groups of pitches have consistently created the broad categories of our musical styles over the last 100 years or so. Thus, as modern guitarists we then might aspire to gain insights into how musical style can theoretically evolve, morph, transition or cross over from one style towards another, simply by the addition or subtraction of select pitches to the core grouping of pitches that originally creates a certain style.

Art ~ Modulation. Modulation is the basic term we theorists often use to describe changing key centers in the music. We 'modulate' from say C major to Eb major. Any combination is possible thanks in part to our equal tempered pitches which allows for the in tune harmony to fully support even the most distant of modulations. We can use the cycle of fifth's to begin to determine the distance between key centers.

So the key centers of 'C' and 'Gb' are furthest apart in sound? That's the basic idea here yes. And minor keys? Exact same principle.

Art ~ Motion to Four / tonal convergence. In this Essentials text, just as 'everything' is a four bar phrase', so it is with our Americana harmonic motions.

"At the core of it all is the motion to Four."

For in near every song in every style, the destination is either from a One chord to Four, or from Four and back to One. And if there's no Four chord in a song? We loose the gospel weave in our Americana, for that song that is. For as soon as we start a rolling on to Four, that special gospel light of joy and fulfillment, returns to stay.

Here's some old time, very slow, gospel redemption as our oldest pitches move between one another to find some shade to rest :) In 'C' major.

Melody harmonic motion from the One chord moving to Four is at the core of our Americana / AmerAfroEuro traditions. From the early 19th century gospel and popular songs, to the blues to today's pop and rock, if a tune starts on One, chances are it'll go to Four. If a song starts on the Four chord, chances are it'll be rolling its way back towards One. In Essentials, this 'rolling to and fro' is tonal gravity, which comes to rest upon arrival. How we get there, and how easily we can tell where we're going, is termed 'aural predictability.' We combine these two magics and watch for the myriad of evolutions as we morph between styles of our beloved Americana musics.

Coolness will forever prevail if we can hear the change from One to Four, then if necessary, we just have to figure out how the music got there. For with these two end points, we just need to figure what's between. Same really with endpoints One and Five, Six and One etc.

So similar yet ... Tried, true and tested over and over and over, all folks just love this motion. That One and Four are so similar in construct, as their triads are a perfect match, in both major and minor, thus provide the destinations and resting points as we journey within the diatonic realm, with its perfectly equal balance of the relative major and minor tonal environments.

For storytelling, Four becomes the tale's journey away from home, which is most often One, in both the major and minor keys / tonalities. The chordal back and forth vamp motion between One to Four and Four to One covers everything from sitting in a rocker pickin' and grinnin' to rockin out' stadiums with the big noise and still really just a pickin' and a grinnin', in both major and minor keys or a mix of both.

Composing without Four. This is a total game changer really, as all of the above descriptions are no longer found as solid ground in music where the motion confidently goes to Four.

Art ~ Motor hand. Is the hand that sets the strings in motion. Beginning guitar players here encouraged, actually I beg of you, to play and spend some time in open 'G' to get your strumming hand up and running ASAP. This is the fastest way to develop the motor hand hands down :) I've seen it work time and time again.

"Art and science do not establish themselves despite failure but through it."
wiki ~ Simone de Beauvoir

Art ~ Of music, math and numbers. That we can mostly just use our fingers, and occasionally add in our toes, to count all of the necessary numbers involved with our music theory is surely by grander design. Crazy hard to believe but just having the counting skills, and understanding the numbers up to 15, and we're golden :)

For examples :)

Number 1 through 8 for scale degrees.

Number 1 through 15 for the arpeggios.

Number 1 (I) through 7 (vii) for chord progressions.

# of pitches in a melody helps determine musical style.

Three chords and the truth.

For there's really no end to the relationship of these two disciplines of music and math. Even way back. That the common number symbols of math can so readily identify music's theoretical components just seems well, like by Mother Nature's design, the added bonus. And it just so happens that however we dice up the pitches and their corresponding numbers, there's always that element of 'perfect or correct closure' we also find in basic math equations etc., for example;

3 + 3 + 1 = 7 or 3 + 1 + 3 = 7 or 1 + 3 + 3 = 7

Here in Essentials we're totally not shy with correlating all manner of math, numbers and music relationships. For anytime we can 'mathematize' our theory, we do :) Even musical styles. And thanks to our modern equal temper tuned pitches, 'once the concept of a 'numerical equivalent' is in place, any and all theory formulas and machinations are equally projected from all of our 12 pitches.' This basic idea can be a super theory game changer for those so inclined to follow the numerical theory pathway.

For a super easy way into the theory for those interested is to simply swap pitch letter names for numbers within a chosen key center. For example; C D E F G A B C becomes 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8, for one full octave of the key of C major. That's the easy part. The tricky part to this easy way is that each of our essential components such as time, scales (last example), arpeggios, triads and colortones, various progressions and cycles, the intervals and the way deeper science math of ratios and frequencies, each have a their own unique way of counting their components. That they're all related to one another, each forming a closed loop of their elements that when combined is the basis for all our Americana styles and their endless genres within.

The organic yet mathematical possible beginnings. So first there's the labeling mathematics of pitch associated with the breakdown of one note into its overtone series. Then there's the mathematics of tuning our pitches over the last two millennia; beginning with our older tuning relationships between pitches based on simple ratios of whole numbers and later to the refinement of today's equal temper tuning, which by the 'mathematics of the 12th root of 2', creating 12 'equal tuned', fully stackable pitches into all chords all keys within one octave.

We also apply this pitch tuning math to building many of our modern instruments. For guitar, a big part of this becomes the fret layout or spacing on the neck. Termed an instrument's 'scale length', a physical measure of nut to bridge, number crunching math helps us uniformly reduce the space between ascending frets, each next fret up in pitch a wee bit smaller than the one before.

In our pitch labeling systems, all throughout this Essentials work we can and often do apply or assign numerical symbols to most of the musical elements we use to create the American musical sounds we love. We can identify any pitch or chord by measuring the interval distance various ways and assign a numerical value to this distance. We can physically count these interval distances between pitches even today when written in near 1000 year old music notation symbols, where rhythms are also counted 1234.

We can also create a numerical core for the entire system of our theory by choosing one pitch to be the center of our music. This becomes the number One. From this center we can numerically identify any other pitch or combination of pitches in relation to this core. And with the mathematically created equal temper tuning, we can project this numerical representation of center, One, equally from the 12 pitches available from within the chromatic scale and include all the chords associated with all the melodies of all the key centers. Yes, a vast system of pitches and combinations.

Another more modern component of music and math is in the digital and computer worlds of 'MIDI.' Of course all of this is based on math with the mathematics of equal temper tuning at its core. Beyond this point there's surely further mathematical divisions of the octave, some of which are achieved through midi, some not, which can redefine our existing collection of pitches to include the 'notes between the notes.' And surely succeeding generations of players will continue this pathway of exploration, seeking new possibilities by correlating artistic music and numerical math :)

We can even numericize all the chords through chord type and color tones. Defined by its quality of 3rd and 7th, there are just four possible solutions of chords, three of which become chord types; One, Two and Five as determined by a diatonic key center. Color tone numbers are generated from above the 1 3 5 of the triads in their arpeggios; both diatonic and altered. Thinking along these lines streamlines learning and dramatically condenses the shedding. Really mostly a jazz player's thing yet super handy for all in streamlining the learning of our entire harmonic resource.

There's re-occurring two / three pattern of black keys while ascending on the piano. This 'builds' into all our keyboards the half step interval locations for creating the scale formula for the relative A minor and C major groups of pitches.

Last and surely least, again that by understanding the number of pitches in a style's melody, as varied as that might seem, we can see and quantify a numerical evolution in a group of pitches as we add in additional pitches to our core five pitch pentatonic groups. Five to six then the seven pitch group. With five remaining as the blue notes and chord color tones.

Art ~ 7 + 5 = 12. This simple math formula contains all of the theory we might ever really need. For when we realize that the diatonic realm is created with seven pitches, with five left over from out of a total of twelve, exploring what these five pitches can do to influence the diatonic seven is surely a way to understand the silent architecture of our American musics.

Art ~ Muse. Need a new melody for a new radio add you're working on. Maybe your muse can help. Our muse is our own creative 'alter ego' or some such inspirational inner spirit, that historically has helped an artist to find their way to create and express. One trick to conjuring Muse to contribute to our work is to give Muse time to think, while the groove of whatever we're creating is moving along. Create a loop of whatever it is, and simply cycle it. Over the course of the repetitions, Muse will 'suggest' ideas that run along with what we already have, what we're conjuring.

"Take what ya need and leave the rest." For next time :) Creating some open spaces, in musical time as it is clicking along, is the trick to master here. For, "all we are saying, is give Muse a chance."

10 % inspiration, 90 % persperation !

Art ~ Music creates community. Historically thinking, when we hear music we become curious to go see what's happening. From a parade to the concert hall, music brings folks together to share in a common coolness. This are the folks of a community. At these gatherings are a chance for folks to get to know one another by sharing something they dig in common; the music. And in doing so can begin new friendships and strengthen their community bonds and inclusiveness of all within the realm.

Help make art happen. When we can be a part of the music we got a spot into this. But even without being a musician we can still help to make this art happen. For in any of these events folks are needed to create and organize, and assist in bringing these community happenings to life.

wiki ~ community

Art ~ Music mysteries. The topics of things we each do not yet know about music theory that keep us hauling on to discover or create new answers to our questions. Some of which are profound and may alter the course of world history. As the energy to keep searching is a core of our human spirit, it's all built right in, we just have to energize and sustain.

wiki ~ history

Art ~ Musical styles. In this Essentials music theory text, our musical styles are in part determined by our numerical spectrum of pitches used to create melodies. Creating a linear spectrum view from left to right, we find the five notes of the pentatonic group expanding towards the 12 of the chromatic group on the right side. From children's song's of four and five pitch melodies into the six pitches of the blues, seven of our natural scale, the relative major minor group and forward, eight for the symmetrical diminished and pitch by pitch for the various chromatically altered groups up to the full 12 of the chromatic scale for jazz.

total # of pitches
1 ...
scale degree #'s

children's songs (5)


folk (6)


blues and rock (6)

pop (7)
jazz (12)

Part of the idea of 'modern' in the title of this work is about developing a theoretical perspective of how set, select groups of pitches have consistently created the broad categories of our musical styles over the last 100 years or so. Thus, as modern guitarists, we can aspire to gain insights into how musical styles will merge with one another, creating new genres, or sub-styles from the main groups. To try and understand the theory of which pitches nudges one style towards another, the blues hues, groove morphs, style transitions and segues or 'cross over' from one style towards another, simply by adding or subtracting key pitches at key moments to our group of melody pitches.

And then there's musical styles and musical time. That more beats and faster tempos runs right along left to right of this style spectrum and bolts right up with number of pitches. A couple of beats for youngster songs, then grouping into two for the eighth note, then the three note triplet for the blues and old time swing. Four beats per measure is the 'big 4' that cores Americana. Groups of four become the 'even eighths' of Latin and its crossover into our modern swing eighths of today, the lingua franca of jazz improv from then till now. On to the tighter 16th's of funk and fusion.

Art ~ New pathways / variety. Even the longest journeys will have a first step. And even after taking a seemingly endless number of steps, the advanced cat might still want to journey on. Luckily for us musicians, there's really no end to our musical universe; songs to write songs and learn, mentoring new players coming up, sharing what we've learned with those so inclined, why even new books to write as one topic unfolds from another, in an endless cycle of learning and discovery. Here are a half dozen or so theory evolutions within Essentials for possible new paths for the advanced artist.

Art ~ jazz / fusion ~ No Four chord in composition. Surely this idea has colossal impact potential on those of us who compose. I've written a couple of dozen songs now and every one has some sort of motion to Four. Except one. And if we were to spin a few of these in succession, when the 'no Four chord' song came along, we hear a difference of this song's storyline and character. It might be almost as dramatic as having just one black and white photo within a group of pictures done in full color.

Since we can associate motion to Four with a gospel quality to our Americana musics, without a Four chord, do we diminish the gospel potential in Americana? And a bit further along these lines, what about the three chords of a 12 bar blues / form? With its motion to the subdominant? Though very rare these days, in theory we've what is termed a 'modal' blues, a four bar phrase repeated that features a typical V7 chord type harmony, but no motion to Four, which in the blues can become truly epic, in proportion, emotion and testimony.

And when we look at the array of styles of songs within the Americana songbook of the last 100 years or so, nearly all the stories and music find their way to Four. As the true Americana weave and warp of gospel and the blues strengthen the Americana fabric of musics, it's hard to not go to Four, and stay in Americana.

So it was in the 1960's when jazz ventured in two new and unique sounding directions, neither of which predominantly features motion to Four. First, we've see further exploration into the emotional essence of the 'church modes', mainly Dorian. And second, a venturing into the Euro originated 12 tone, 'serial' style of composition on the urban jazz scene.

The church modes are part of our original melodic groupings, created from our globally shared, now ancient pitches, all before they were Euro homoginized into the mathematical perfection of equal temper tuning. We know today that much of the original modal music was sung, in unison, as single line melodies, mostly in a minor key and yet, we can begin to hear motion to Four in these melodic lines. While in the serial 12 tone creative sphere, clearly hearing any sort of motion to Four is generally elusive, thus the 'Americana gospel quality' tough to find and really feel.

Similarly in the early 1960's, now backed by equal temper tuned chordal instruments, piano and guitar, further modal color variety was created by building chords in 4th's, so 'quartile' as opposed to the more common tertian harmony, chords built up in thirds.

Chord motion became more linear, mainly by half step. And within a few years this began to evolve by enlarging the cycles and motions of harmony with modal flavored melodies. Rockers heard this and created their 'fusion' of rock and jazz. With guitar being a lead instrument in rock, and with its string organization by perfect 4th's, by the late 60's there was quite a 'jazz rock' fusion scene. Just explore :)

wiki ~ jazz fusion

That said, there are ways to compose that simply finds ways not to go to Four. And as you might Imagine, this way of crafting the art can sound very very different from 'Four chord' art. When the V7 dominant chord color begins to filter more predominantly into this 'no Four chord' style, the effect is potentially electric. And I'm sure there's a way to mix the two and create fabulous new art, explore :)

Art ~ Numbers of pitches = evolution. The theory basis of this work centers on the basic premise that as we add new 'anythings' to whatever we are working with, we increase the number of different possible combinations. That we've a finite number of pitches, the 12 pitches of the chromatic scale, that idea gets our arms around the resource. And as our components evolve by adding pitches, they become capable of different musical explorations and expressions. Our most common additions include adding new pitches to groups of pitches, and adding colortones to three note triads, and adding in more chords to our progressions for songs.

By creating a theory spectrum of musical styles based on the number of pitches we generally find in their creation; from children's songs and folk into blues, country, rock and pop to jazz, that by adding or subtracting pitches to our core group, we evolve the group and its capabilities to venture into other stylistic realms. As there are only 12 pitches in total, this is just an easy way to begin to understand the process of morphing one style to another. Understanding this 'morph between styles' from the theory perspective of number of pitches is the basis of this work's evolving of a 'modern' guitarist.

Art ~ Nutshells. Two parts to this really, nut and shell. One is the idea of the kernel of knowledge 'in a nutshell', which is the lead paragraph of near every page and topic in this work.

Second is the theory nutshell which goes like this; So how many eggs in a dozen? How many pitches in the chromatic scale? How many hours depicted on an old fashioned clock? How many pitches in the chromatic scale? Right 12. Is everything either major or minor in our music? Yes it is. Really? Yep, there's a helix of two ancient musical colors created by a closed looping of their pitches. This shapes our diatonic scale. Can we make any of the 12 pitches the diatonic center pitch of the loop ? Yep. Why ... ? Because we equal temper tune the pitches for a piano? That's a stretch but true.

How many loops in a song usually? Well, near always one for sure, sometimes one or two or more. Any combination of major and minor cool? Yep. Is there a correlation between number of loops in a song and musical style? Yep, at least in this theory book. Are the arpeggios created with these loops? Yep. Chords too? Yep, they come from the arpeggios. With even today's chords? Absolutely, again, once the pitches are equal temper tuned then yes.

Are there diatonic rhythm loops just like with the pitches? Yep. Do they define style also? Yep. Is there a numerical way to represent all of these elements of this diatonic looping of pitches into scales, arpeggios, chords and rhythms? Yep. Is time, feel and groove just as important in making music as the pitches? Yep. Making music with folks? Double yep so yep yep. Is sharing our music a source of love energy to bring our own art to life and encourage and create community? Absolutely, and giant YEP :)

Art ~ The octave. As the purest sounding of all our musical intervals when we sound two notes of different pitch together, the octave interval is the initial basis of our theory as the 12 core pitches live within the octave span. As its perfect purity of sound is bested by no other, no surprise we find it in so many cherished melodies, throughout our entire range of styles. Mathematically represented by our simplest of ratios; 2:1, we can historically trace the octave basis for our music theory to the ancient Greek Pythagoras, whose sharp hearing and keen mind began the process of music and math.

Art ~ Octave melodies. The purest sounding of all or musical intervals, the octave interval is often found in memorable melodies. Here are a few suggestions to explore its magic within classic melodic lines.

wiki ~ "Happy Birthday"
wiki ~ "Over The Rainbow"
wiki ~ "I Let A Song Go Out Of My Heart"
wiki ~ "Masquerade"

wiki ~ "Moonlight In Vermont"

wiki ~ "It's Only A Paper Moon"

wiki ~ "Lush Life"

Art ~ One / Four / Five. These numbers represent the most common of our pitch / root motions / chord progression motions. We'll find it in every style. As chords they back a myriad of different blues styled 12 bar forms. Discovering that in each diatonic key center we get a One / Four and Five chord for both relative major and minor is for some a super theory game changer. I know it was for me. Thanks Stu.

Art ~ One drop. As cool as it gets really, for in the reggae grooves and magic, we get to 'tacet' on beat one of the measure, creating a sort of 'breath in' hold which we release on beat two and forward. That we get to do this is thanks to the drummers, who supply us with the downbeat one, while the rest of the band 'drops' the first beat, and then finds two. Very cool all around, the dancers love it of course and done just a certain way, we can make the bar lines go away :) Which for some of us modernes becomes a nice hunk of the whole tamale.

make the bar lines go away
wiki ~ one drop beat

Art ~ One hundred songs. That mostly if we eventually learn 100 songs, we'll have gotten aquainted with just about every twist of pitch and chord ever imagined ... except the #15 interval? Probably as I've yet to see or hear it ( no surprise here ) in any music. Check it out here for it might take you there beyond existing boundaries, so it's a portal of sorts to a potential new dimension in Americana musics.

Art ~ One idea per chorus. This is mostly a jazz performance concept for improvisation. While perhaps most common with the 12 bar blues, it works in any form. The idea is to develop one motif through the body of a song's form and harmonies. In each new chorus, have a new idea to work through the form. Build idea upon idea, each developed through a song's form.

I first got hip to this idea from tenor saxophonist Frank Foster back around '81' or so. I was the guitar, chordal player in a jazz quintet named "Moment's Notice." This of course is the title of Coltrane's pivotal song. Mr. Foster was in town to help straighten out our college big band on the finer points of Count Bill Basie's fine art so I booked a date for the quintet hoping we could get Foster to sit in. When I asked Mr. Foster if he'd like to sit in on our gig he asked what the name of our band was. Upon hearing our name he asked if we played that song. I and my bandmates told him it was our theme song and we played it every performance. Luckily all the stars aligned and we all got to work the magic together that evening.

wiki ~ Frank Foster
wiki ~ "Moment's Notice"
wiki ~ Count Basie

When Mr. Foster sat in and called "Moment's Notice" we played our arrangement down. When we got to Foster's solo, he easily blew for 20 minutes on the form of the song. Ya could of heard a pin drop in the club as he worked the magic of his melodic ideas, working through the early 'double Two / Five' evolutions of harmonies of what would become in a few short years the Coltrane changes.

On the next break I asked Mr. Foster how he could find so many things to say on these changes. "I really didn't have that many different ideas Joe, I simply took one idea and worked it through the harmony cycles of the song. Hmm ... one idea per chorus. "So ideas like; the rhythmic melody major 3rd lick adjusted to the changing harmony? Exactly. A next idea was to simply spelling out the chords with arpeggios, then a permutation of these arpeggios for a chorus or two, then add a blues hue to each new key center, then use a bit of the gospel of the last phrase of the melody, I also quoted a couple of hooks from other songs and ran them through the cycle of the song. You get the idea; one idea per chorus developed through the body of a song." Got it? Yes Sir thanks to you I sure do ... thanks! :)

Art ~ A one pitch tritone. How possible? How can one pitch be a tritone? Needs some help yes? Sure does. We'll most commonly find a one pitch tritone at the perfect center of an enhanced minor pentatonic scale. This added pitch to the five makes six, and we commonly call it the blues scale.

Another common spot for a one pitch tritone is as #11, easily found in a tonic major or dominant V7 arpeggio. By raising up the diatonic 11 by half step, we sidestep the problem of matching up the major 3rd and the diatonic 11, avoiding the b9 clash with the major 3rd.

Art ~ Open tunings. Open tunings are a game changer for those so inclined. While there's a myriad of possibilities thanks to the guitar's versatility, just three; the open G, open E and 'Hawaiian 6/9' are included in this work's first edition.

An open tuning allows the overall desired mood of a song to be created simply by strumming the open strings of the instrument. In the three tunings included here, each one initially needs just one or two chord shapes to get us moving up and down the fingerboard and through basic chord progressions. Also, as the instrument is tuned to a sonorous chord using the open strings, using just a slide or barre finger gets us a ton of mileage.

Art ~ Open tunings ~ vocalist with guitar. An artist whose main instrument is their voice might explore the open tunings as the new accompaniment sounds will encourage looking deeper into their melody pitches and various intonations as created with their voice, as the instrument in an open tuning no longer provides the degree of doubling of pitch as provided by many of its common open chords in traditional concert tuning, i.e., E A D G B E. Also, that due to the nature of open tunings, the enhanced orchestral sound created by including more of the open strings can re-energize the motor hand to find new patterns for strumming. Try a thin pick at first and find a gallop.

wiki ~ Ani Defranco

Art ~ Open tunings ~ blues guitar. The open G tuning comes to us today from the banjo of early America and is a game changer for those so inclined. Super easy to do and with added slide, the blues just burst forth from the first couple of frets. Any beater acoustic, the beater the better sometimes, well something fairly tunable surely.

Open E might be considered nowadays as the core slide tuning for Southern rock styles and all it has brought forth since Duane Allman showed us a way forward in the late 60's early 70's.

wiki ~ Duane Allman

The Hawaiian 6/9 is a 12 stringers delight. As common with open tunings, one or two chord shapes can open up the entire range of the instrument in minutes. Of course 6/9 is a wonderful slide key too.

Art ~ Over an 'E' pedal tone. In creating musical examples for this study, while C major bases a lot of the letter / pitch discussions, aural examples are quite often based in E major / minor, as I could then sound the low E string to create a pedal tone bass note to support and focus the example pitches on the high E and B strings.

Art ~ Over or through the changes. This is the basic pedological distinction in regards to improv. For in most of our styles, artists are blowing over the changes with a parent scale, most often the key of the music. As the shedding deepens, players find themselves finding ideas for each new chord that comes along in the chord progression of the song. While way more of a jazz approach, lots of very hip cats in all of our styles will combine both; over and through the changes.

Art ~ Paradigm shift. Simply when one's perspective and understanding of a topic or idea evolves in a kind of big way after careful study and a lot of thought ... or not, as the case might be. As in 'voilà' ? Exactly. Man ... 'I never knew that ... '. Wow. What if ? Etc.

Art ~ Plane-ing / parallel motion. This is a chordal technique whereby the same chord shape or voicing is moved up or down the frets. Stacked perfect 4th's of quartile harmony is common in this motion. While any and all intervals are available, root bass pitch patterns of the song or vamp often determines the intervals and sequence. The jazz and blues style of chromatic enhancement of the half step lead in with chords probably wins the day.

Art ~ Perfect closure. Simply means that no matter how we dice up and order the pitches, if we run the pattern out long enough, our loop of pitches will always close back on its original starting point with mathematical precision.

Scales, modes, arpeggios, chords, progressions, and even with rhythms, whose four bar phrase often rules the day in Americana musics.

So when exploring and getting lost in whatever, if we just keep on going, just keep on keepin' on, the pitches, idea, theory all will eventually come around, and we'll find a way forward.

Art ~ Permutation. Permutation is simply the process by which we as artists will recombine our existing elements into new patterns. ABC becomes CBA, BAC, BCA, CAB ACB etc. Each of these can be sequenced various ways; chromatic motions, cycles of intervals, diatonically through scale degrees.

~ art / phrasing ~

'become aware of the connection;

mind, heart and hands ...'


Art ~ Phrasing. Think of how you laugh. Anyone else really laugh like you? Talk? Walk? And are there other characteristics of you that make you just you? Of course there are and we each as 'uniques', relish and cherish our uniqueness and the individuality of all sentient beings. With our music, same thing.

How can it be the same with our music? That our own voice is as unique as unique can ever be? Singular, only one and surely one of a kind? That's a built in coolness of this Americana improvised art.

How to do? Sing the line play the line. Sing a melodic idea, find the pitches, then find the emotional nuance of your voice inflection in your instrument's pitches.

Sing the rhythmic swing, feel the pull of the swing. That's how most learn to swing, by singing the feel of it with a melody we've known all our lives. Combine phrasing, time and tone and we get the main elements of our artistic signature. Ya got one of these yet?

Art ~ Piano theory. For many of us the perfectly linear nature of the pitch layout of the piano will facilitate creating solid visualizations of the theories, pitches, arpeggios, chords, root motions, that can open up new ways of understanding of much of what we do as guitarists. Plus there's that magical sustain pedal. So what's not to like? Here's some free advice; any time spent theorizing at the piano is probably time well spent.

Art ~ Pick motion. Perhaps a better description here for this technical skill would be pick travel, just how far does the pick move to set a pitch into motion. There's a ton of ideas about how this all works so explore your own faves in this.

In Essentials, the focus is more on fingerstyle, starting the stings in motion without a pick. This includes: a reverse sort of old fashioned lute motion, a 'claw' of sorts for making the chords, a sweep with the thumb for the octaves as well as a 'pluck' of thumb and index for the various intervals.

For the picksters reading here, simply picture the width of the pick and the width of the string. Once the pick is past the string the deed is done and any further 'travel' of the pick is wasted motion, depending of course on what is next. Which most times is another picked note. So the trick to getting faster is simply to minimize pick travel and this is all about focus. So focus on how you do it, and just minimize pick travel to play faster. It is thought and I've seen to believe that faster pick motion comes from a motion in the eldbow than the writs or fingers. Something we each get to figure out for ourselves it seems for there's lots of unique and individual approaches to working this magic.

technique videos

Art ~ Play as much as you know. There are times when we're playing music where we get to the point where we don'y know what to play so we stop. Then, hopefully pick our way back in when we have something to play and add to the mix. This idea can be especially true for emerging artists now moving towards a more jazz approach to their music and specifically; chords. For jazz chords add a new diminision of physical challenge. So when adding in new voicings during practice sessions or even gigging, stopping to get the shape ready then adding it at the correct time into the measures of the music where it belongs as the music goes along gives us a toehold into the process in real time, and we can build it up from there :)

Art ~ Play it again. All to often when we're moving along improvising our musics, we can move to quickly from idea to idea to idea. Sometimes repeating an idea is just a good way to go. Coupled with 'one idea per chorus' and building solo's, repeating an idea again helps stretch our chops and ideas when the well runs dry. We hear this all the time in the blues, the perfect form really for getting this sort of creativity together.

Art ~ Play primitive. Ever hear this lick from the leader of the band? Years ago a local blues monster advised me to play primitive when on his bandstand, leave the jazz it up stuff for further on downtown. So each of our styles has a sort of 'primitive' version. In the blues this can be just using an 'in the mud' rhythm and a pitch or two to fill the dance floor. Play primitive. And that's what this cat wanted to hear and have happen on his gig. Play primitive. He did it on every tune, play primitive. Say's to me 'ya know Joe, folks here just want to come out and have a little fun in the mud ~ play primitive :)

Art ~ DON'T STOP ! :) Play your part. Ever hear this lick from the leader of the band? I never really did as we had to watch for visual cues conducted by the leader. But I've had to say it a time or two as a leader :)

There's two parts to this; one easy one notso. The easy part is once you be grooving, just keep going until further notice as directed by the leader of the song your performing. If this cat is you, give clear signals to your band when to stop etc.

The notso easy part ... and you do not know the tune ... be all ears and do whatever it takes to make who ever is playing the melody sound good. Stay out of their way. If you get to solo, maybe try to sound out the melody. If you like this song and want to play it again with the band, it's now the homework to take home from work :)

The notso easy part ... but you already know the song to be played and have done some homework, if you can play your part from beginning to end without the rest of the band, like with a metronome, you're probably good to go. For thus empowered, then all we need is the tempo, and if we keep our time steady, we'll get to the other parts and end of the tune with eveyone else who has also done some homework with the song. Just stands to reason that if we know the same tune and decide on the tempo, the song's form keeps it cool moving along.

So this translates into 'don't stop.' For you know the tune and the tempo, just be the motor or part of one. This gives the lead voice something to lean into, so their phrasing is easily shaped and bent around the story. That a story can be told a lot of ways is the only real caution here. Sometimes it changes so we just have to pay attention all the time. This is a learned skill unless you start out in music as a kid. Concentrate, focus, relax all come into this once the shedding is done and the lights come up.

Art ~ playing well with others. Surely this follows most of what we do in life to get along with our peeps. "Want to have friends? Be friendly :) Want to work is show biz? Be sensitive to the needs of others, especially the star of the show. Want to play in a band? Join one and help the leader accomplish their goals. Want to lead a band? Take on the responsibilities you learned when you joined a band. Also playing well with others involves getting your musical time together, meaning work a bit with a metronome to get a true sense of how good your musical and artistic time is in relation to a measured, scientific sort of beat. Fix it if it is wonky. Also, playing well with others is about working together to produce art for a wider audience; for oftentimes that is the goal. As Doc Miller often quipped ... "take the 'e' out of ego and GO!

Art ~ (At what) point in the loop. Essentials uses two basic visuals to illustrate the music theory. There's a left to right horizon line perspective which is illustrative of musical styles. There's also a loop, like a string of pearls, that represents groups of pitches; our scales, modes, and arpeggios. While each also has its place, there's a way to bend the style horizon line also into a loop.

Why would we want to do this? Well, in certain compositional settings, the theory allows us to evolve or morph between contrasts; major to minor, consonant to dissonant, from style to style. That musical style and the number of pitches in its melodies becomes a basis to build theories upon and write into musical compositions that require stylistic evolutions. Like a theatre show? Yep. Movie scores? Surely.

This loop concept might encourage us to graph out groups of pitches that gradually add or subtract, pitch by pitch, each step creating a new shades of color. These could become tone rows or even microtonal tunings, (where there's more than 12 pitches within an octave span,) or within equal temper tuning, arpeggiating our two types of thirds into the Dorian and Lydian loops of the #15 theories.

wiki ~ microtonal tunings

Art ~ Portals. It's been known for sometime now that the stars in the heavens are the markers in pathways to other points beyond. We could say they are the portals, that once we have arrived to pass on through, then new destinations appear. One's we might not have seen had we not reached for the portal star.

We use this same basis in this 'e' book. Believe it or not, many of the graphics used on each of the pages are maps showing the portals to other destinations. Often beyond the current discussion. As they say in Alaska wilderness, proceed at your own peril :) Luckily we can click right back and save the day. Or proceed ahead to potential confusion, and have something new to figure out. During the day it's the sky and at night it is the heavens and the formulas within the star constellations appear, at least that's what some still believe :)

wiki ~ portal in fiction

Art ~ Practicing / practice makes permanent ~ for what we practice is what we play. Most players that we dig to listen to probably like to practice too. And like most things, just the joy of getting better at something keeps us keeping on. Usually there's tons of stuff to practice, pro leaning players know this. For performance in any style demands concentration to focus and some rote learning, and we can strengthen both with practice.

pro leaning players

Recommend for what / how to practice. Since songs are what we play when we make music with friends, might as well learn songs. For when we get to jam with friends and bring our music to life, chances are we're playing tunes, or parts of tunes, that we turn into vamps. So learning songs is a way to practice. Any song really will do. And at any level we're coming to this idea at. U b a monster? Run a five pitch melody through 12 keys at 200. Beginner? Find seven melody notes on one string. Novice? Take a melody and write / produce a new song in the style U dig best. Shredder? Take bits and pieces of a melody U dig and sequence them into new prolations. More a vocalist? Sing some blues for starters.

pro leaning players

How to practice by style and technique.

Folk / all styles. Strum just once between problematic chord voicings. We usually have the strumming part and just need to work on the physical reshaping and placement of the fingers, or slide, between the two chords.

Picker / all styles. Visualize the width of the pick and the width of the string to minimize how far the pick needs to travel to strike the string. Minimizing pick travel helps smooth things out and makes for faster melodic lines.

Time / all styles. Work with a metronome to gain a sense of your own perceptions of musical time and how accurate you are when measured with a metronome. Adjust as needed to express the art in your heart.

Teach / all styles. What you know to others for having to rework the knowledge and techniques so that another understands is a solid way to better understand what we already know.

Old time quip. Remember that practice makes permanent, that what we practice is what we'll perform.

Old time wisdom. Extract the tricky spots in your music and play them over and over till ya got them solid.

Blues, jazz / all styles. Sing the line, play the line. Infuse all of your emotions into your music by singing the parts you wish to play, then sound out your ideas. This is the easiest way to get our lines and rhythms to swing.

Find one note / blues, jazz / all styles. Just like sing the line, play the line. Infuse all of your emotions into your music by singing the parts you wish to play, then sound out your ideas. This is the easiest way to get our lines and rhythms to swing. Do this with your fave pitch.

All styles. That something we love to do, listening to music, is also a good way to practice, sounds crazy but it is. A wide spectrum of art, even just on the radio, to pick up new ideas, to mix on into your own art :)

R O !

"You can do anything for one minute."
Hailey Swirlbul

Art ~ Preparing for performance. We each find our way to settle in to create the magic live. Success can dictate how the prep might go for each of us. If you perform successfully simply try to recreate the whole process the same way each time you gig, tweaking as needed. For according to the now ancient Aristotle, 'excellence is a habit', to be honed, repeated, perfected.

wiki ~ Aristotle

If all the stars align I'm warming up an hour or so prior to performing. When out on the highway playing the AK roadhouses, I'll start the load in and warm ups about three hours out front. Hit the ground running as many are fond of saying.

Performance is a process. From working with and hearing Alaska pianist Tom Bargelski I often recall an idea of Art Blakey; that whenever we assemble to work the magic, from informal run throughs to the wearing of the formal blacks, make every note count.

"Music washes away the dust of everyday life." wiki ~ Art Blakey

Also, as the time to start a performance approaches perhaps to remember the simple rule of music making in any sort of club atmosphere. An idea from Alaska bassist David Arrowsmith who works a lot with Tom; 'that if the band has fun, everyone in the club has fun.' So we try to make it fun for everyone? Yep.

Art ~ Price of admission. In the old days, when I was a kid, 'barkers' barked about their show and I remember the quip 'worth the price of admission.' After a couple of decades in music, being helped along and helping others, turns out there's a few things that really can turn it around for up and coming cats, super theory game changers? Yep. And that at $25, the price of admission to this book, any one or two or three of these musical revelations hopefully get you your money's worth. This I sincerely hope for, your development in understanding and evolving your musics.

Art ~ Print and post. It's nothing short of amazing what might get conjured when we theorists view an organization of the pitches while we are honing our craft, i.e., practicing or just hanging in the shed working on our music. So included in this 'e' book are printable files of pictures that depict various sorts of music theory relationships between pitch letter names and numbers, various cycles of pitches and their organization and even adding in colors and their relationships to one another to contrast for composing.

Art ~ Proudly proclaim that they don't know. Not sure why this happens but it is worth noting. As theorists we can bump into cats who seem to proudly proclaim what they 'don't know' about music theory, often as applied to the music being performed etc. Not too sure why this happens, it's probably about 'learning blocks' with adult learners. Might be best to get on a reclining couch and talk and draw pictures about it all, rgi worked for me :) Regardless, this is a super tread lightly zone, to keep the harmony of the moment, rehearsal, band etc., just get the sounds and combinations you're all after to happen asap and let the verbiage be whatever it needs to be.

For nine times out of ten, artists eventually come around and are curious of some aspect of as to what makes the music tick theorywise. Generally called a 'teachable moment', one suggestion is to 'individualize instruction', to just try to get into their existing thought process and knowledge base of how they understand their music. Once there, just find a way to lash up the new theory ideas with how they know what they profess to not know. Crazy huh? But works. "Trying to teach another is perhaps our own best learning process too."

Easy fix. If you've read this and want to reshape this perspective, simply never again utter the words that openly profess your self ignorance. Done. Viola :) That show is over. To profess uncertainty of a thing is normal, we all do it when necessary, we need to be honest and safe, and it gives us something new to learn about. W just stay hungry, live every day as if we will live forever, and if we don't, we don't :)

"I don't know anything about music, in my line of work you don't have to."

wiki ~ Elvis Presley

Art ~ Public school. For a long time now I've marveled at the public school's music education of the 20's through the 60's, the Americana art produced by countless artists who had this opportunity.

In our studies here, we are extra curious about the melodies they played as kids at school. That many of these melodies have the swing built right in, makes for a joyous way to find and develop this Amer Afro Euro magic for any aged learner.

The Let Music Ring curriculum book has provided a window into this early American public school training. Most of the melodies on the song page are from this book. So if we each can get a few of these songs to swing, chances are super good that we'll get our other lines to swing, and just as freely and totally heartfelt, played and swung right from the heart. Just to play all our lines pure from the heart, and sound like we've known these melodies and pitches since we were kids :)

Art ~ Pull off. This is a string technique that simply finds the finger 'popping' off the string. Lots of ways to do this. Some advanced cats will 'tap' and 'pull off' with a coordinated approach with both hands. The straight up 'pull off' is with just the string stopper fingers, mostly the index and middle.

Art ~ Pure melody players. Just like pure anything really, pure melody players just have a knack for playing melodies. Whether it is the written line of a song or their improvisations on the song's form and harmony; that everything sounds like a melody. So no licks? No canned stuff? Maybe? So how to do ? Become a pure melody player? Sing the line, play the line :)

Art ~ Puzzles. Those with a love for puzzles just might enter into a vast new realm for artistic, historical, mathematical and truly universal explorations. For in our musical curiosities we can go all the way back to when the crib and gig was in cave and its firepit :) Especially true if the new seeker reading here has an openess and curiosity for looking for the patterns within a thing, a need to know how and why a thing 'works', has balance and pleases our art souls.

Art puzzles. Not all of our understanding puzzles are numbers, letters and perfect formula balance.

fix please ...

For we've art puzzles too. These happen at least two ways. There's the mobile scultures tht float in time, whse descrition in words beyond my skill level. And there's the puzzle create by pitches moving through measured time, that we solve as we go along. Like improv ? Yep. That's why our firat puzzle is the 12 bar blues.

And for those also that who will dig the numerical way of understanding these patterns, music and its many inner puzzles provide for some serious serious conjuring into how we each understand the natural world we live within. For while the math part is super easy, consisting mostly of swapping pitch letter name for a number within a sequence, it energizes profound insights which can then become pathways to search into our own creative muse and the art it may create.

The not puzzling flip side part to this spiritual searching and exploration is perfect closure of our pitches. For no matter how far we venture in our cerebral travels with near any puzzling aspect of our pitches, we theorists are blissfully thankful confidently knowing that our puzzles always balance, always equal out, are seeking to find that equilibrium of pattern, that we intuitively just know in our own hearts is within soul nourishing art. So just a double helix of our pitches, in letter name and numerical equivelent, one and two octave strands that weave into the perfect closure of all things equal temper. Dig the double helix thinking in C major.

scale # degrees
C major scale
arpeggio # degrees
C major arpeggio

"I'm very good at knowing what I don't know."

wiki ~ Derek Jeter

Art ~ Radio dial. Into the waybac machine near 100 years now to when the radio first became available to a wide swath of folks here in America. Total game changer then and it can still be today, helping those looking to evolve their music. For the radio brought the country and its musics, and more, together anywhere the waves would reach and for many musicians, it opened them up to fantastical sounds not of their own locales that inspired their own works with what they had at hand. And if the listeners wherever were dancers, they danced to the music over the radio waves. And the musicians who were with them ... maybe learned those tunes and the styles to fill up their own dance floors, have a little fun.

That these same radios are today just about everywhere, they become a super accessible way for a cat to get into the theory by simply listening to the radio and spinning the dial. Cruising up and down the AM and FM bandwidths we get to hear a dozen or so different styles in just a few minutes. And while the same theory architecture bases all of the styles, each of course has its own unique way of ordering up the pitches, presenting them with various colors of instruments and setting them in motion through time. That all combines to become the basis of style. By working with diatonically defined groups of pitches we find the core basis of each style. In this text we correlate the number of different pitches used to create a melody with musical style. This creates our spectrum of Americana styles. And that as evolving creative artists we may aspire to be, we then begin to borrow pitches from one style for another. This is the philosophical basis of a modern guitarist.

Here's a few beginning musical elements to locate in each of our 'passes' up and down the bandwidth. So flip the switch and dial it in, for over the airwaves has always been, a way to hear the cool and new, then grab your ax and find your sounds and inner grooves.

So it goes like this :)

Turn it on.

Pick AM or FM.

Scroll to the bottom and find some Americana music; folk, rock, blues, pop jazz whatever.

Find the 2 and 4 of the groove and snap along with your fingers and count measures.

Count four bar phrases and note any musical events that occur at the close of each phrase.

Find the top of the form of the song.

Is the song mostly in a major or minor key ?

Find the key center pitch of the song.

Distinguish between major and minor chords.

Listen for the chord progression, its cycle in the song.

Listen for the motion to Four.

Listen for the hook, verse, chorus and ending.

If you find a rythmic, melodic or chord idea you dig, clap it out, sing it out, find the chords.

Scroll to the next station with Americana music and repeat the process the above steps.

Scroll repeat, scroll repeat etc.

Art ~ Repeat the idea. All too often we come up with a nice idea, well hopefully once in a while, and then fail to develop it under whatever circumstances it conjures up. For while we all have let songs go out of our hearts, forgotten a good hook, when we remember to write one down, we should write the song, give it some cred.

In folk music, if there's a couple of key words to a story, arrange a way to repeat them. Often written this way, its an easy way to include everyone listening too.

In the blues, finding coolness and staying with the idea is a good way to bring the house down. Even holding one 'dear' note will often do it.

With improv, the mantra is often to develop the idea we just played, before moving on to something new. The best of the best find one idea per chorus, and simply develop that motif through the form of the song. Easy in words, there's a super powered thought process to do this. Start with a 12 bar blues and build up a five chorus or so solo, one idea per chorus.

And in jazz music, as the chords get more involved by choice, carrying and permutating one idea through the form is a wonderful, lifelong challenge of sorts, as our memeories and abilities 'to remember' become challenged in later years.

Art ~ The repetitions. All through this work the same few ideas are repeated becoming links from different angles as the theory discussions unfold. For repetition is a way of the learning method by rote. As you begin to pass by once unfamiliar theory vocabulary because you've learned it, it becomes a measure of your learning.

Also in repetition; teaching the theory to friends helps to put things in your own terms. Simple verbal, mental or written reciting of spelling out the pitches of key centers, their scales, arpeggios and chords is strengthening in the whole process.

Art ~ resolving motions (core). All through this work and many others for that matter, is the idea that our musical energy current is created by our human sense of tension and its release. The basis of the release we theorists often term a 'cadential motion.' We cadence to a resting point in the music.

That each of our musical styles has their own essential ways of creating this juice to energize the stories being told. As theorists, we just want to know the nuts and bolts of these tension / release mechanisms. We can generally trace them through the styles by the number of pitches used to generate the magic. Having one or two of these under our fingers and to know their theory is a sure start to the tension / release dynamic for creating exciting and memorable art.

Art ~ The root pitch. 'The root pitch of a 'C major scale is C.' As fundamental to our theory studies as any one thing, the root pitch of a musical element defines its place in the musical universe. That by theoretically thinking from the root of 'something', we eliminate any questions about how to place the pitch and what it might be carrying into our musics. Harnessed up with the term diatonic and what it implies, these two theories alone or combined, create 90% of how the theory is presented in Essentials. That in 'thinking from the root we'll never get lost', while it is not completely fool proof, it can be and it surely is a super solid place to start.

chord inversions

Art ~ 'R O !' right on / write on / read on. That you're curious about all this understanding music biz so a sincere 'right on' to you. That I've a reader of my ideas, a 'write on' to me, so combine these two up creates a ... 'read on' for all of us :)

That one of the functions of this work is to help younger artists learn to read, both English and musical notation is a true goal for this text. Reading is fun-damental yes ?

Art ~ rule of thumbs. Here's a few basics that not only work like a charm, but the charm should work every time. So a pretty potent spell to cast.

Technique. There's only one rule here about technique and learning to play guitar and bass. Find a way to support your ax without having to hold it. Guitar strap? Exactly. Or whatever U can come up with. And even when sitting down, if we have to actually hold the thing, while also trying to finger tickle it to make the magic, it can just shackle up the whole process.

Author's note. I've seen headline guitarists in big rooms, while performing standing up, use heavy duty yarn for their strap, thinking that could be risky :) But whatever works, works. And there's always a better way; we each just have realize we need one, figure some ways, try them out and find our own. This'll hold us till we need another better way, for whatever next comes along we need a better way at; we need, we figure, we try, we choose a pathway forward. For ... we learn more from our mistakes than successes.

Theory. This rule gets a double, so 'two thumbs up' :)

'Think from the root of the chord and never get lost.'

Always think in terms of the diatonic realm, if we don't have the pitches, don't make the part. Borrow whatever pitches are needed to make the part, just try to understand the 'where and why' it comes from. For most times there's a pathway there to explore and more to discover.

Performance / improv. 'Sing the line, play the line.' Just a simple way to always play from the heart, say what we mean and mean what we say :)

'When comping, always get underneath the volume of the soloist, even to drop out, 'tacet', if needed.'

Reading music / music analysis from written music. The key signature of written music applies to the melody pitches. In a lead sheet, the letter / numbers of the chord symbols provided in support of a melody are not restricted by the written key signature of the key of the song.

If a pitch is given as just a letter name, usually that implies it is a 'major' version of whatever element. A song in 'Eb' implies it is written in 'Eb' major. A 'D' chord is a 'D' major chord and probably a triad as no other designations are included to describe the component. Minor will have a '-' sign as in 'A-' or 'Am', or 'A' minor etc.

Basic how to music. Slow it down, learn the lick, then work it up to the tempo you need.

Soloing, build and develop solos. When improvising, find one idea a run it through the form of the tune for each chorus of your solo. Evolve this idea into a new one for the next chorus. Start this bit of discipline with the 12 bar blues. Use the blues elevator to get there if needed.

Theory / improv trick. Try using relative minor pitches over relative major chords and progressions and vice versa.

Art ~ run through 12 keys. This idea is probably more of a theory exercise, chops builder and know you horn sort of endeavor. In this process we simply take one melody and learn it in one key. We then 'run' the line through the remaining 11 key centers, transposing the pitches along the way. Works equally well for both major and minor melodies and really helps to get our heads and hands around the pitches.

That we can find the same melody from the 12 different start points is part of the theory closure here. So in this '12 key' exercise we find 'theory bedrock closure' of the pitches; that everything we create with the 12 pitches lives within a perfectly closed system of theory. And with this same solid 'silent architecture' that we all share, we all can bring and build our music together, energized with the coolness of our own creativity to collaborate together on this solid, common ground.

Art ~ the 'rules.' Well there's often some talk about the 'rules' in our musics. In understanding your own musics, the basic rule we always try to follow, through all of EMG's discussions of the scales, arpeggios, chords and beyond, is the diatonic rule.

Rule # 1. If we do not have the pitches, we can't make the part. This is the diatonic ~ non diatonic rule. And all this rule gets us is an infalably, ever 'correct way' to understand the pitches, and their relations to one another, of our musics.

Rule # 2. See rule #1.

That said, we can totally 'borrow' whatever we need whenever we might need it. The whole tamale here is to simply know which ptches and where they basically come from. Is this a jazz leaning art? Tis is. For most of our musics live within the 'diatonic 3 and 3', and all we need lives there. To this we often add a touch of the 'blue hue', and that's that.

All musics come from an era, what we theorists often term a 'common practice period.' Meaning, during this 'period' of history, there was a 'common practice', the way most folks of that era created their musics. We as theorists can translate this common practice into the 'rules' of that era.

And if we want to recreate music of an particular era, we simply follow the 'rules' they used. We can make a new song today that 'sounds like' one written 100 years ago, simply by following the 'rules' or 'their way of thinking' during that era.

So in our Americana musics, there's no rules really, unless we want to make music that captures the essence of a bygone era today. This is better termed 'tradition' I'd imagine, as there's a lot more to it than just the pitches.

Art ~ running the changes. This phrase comes to us from my reading about Charlie Parker. In this we are creating improvised melodic lines through the chord progression of our song. So it turns out that 'running the changes', a practice / warm up exercise of creating a melodic line through the chord changes of a song, was what Parker was doing when he realized something new in his understanding of the relationships between arpeggios and chords. That the upper structure color tones would provide the next evolution in American jazz through Parker's own style of jazz that is know to us today as bebop. Coltrane is thought to have followed the same process of running the changes a decade or so later with his development of what we know as 'sheets of sound.'

Art ~ Same old pitches. So how do the same old pitches we have had forever continue to create new musical art that sounds different from the music we already have?

Art ~ Same theory any key. Simply the idea that as the modern owners in common of 12 equal tempered pitches perhaps best represented by the guitar and various keyboard instruments, that whatever theory we learn about one pitch from any angle: as a diatonic key center, a scale, a mode, an arpeggio, chord, lick, line or song, equally applies to them all. A core of being Americana? Ideally yes in many ways yes.

Art ~ scales / arpeggios / chords. The central core of it all for our aural resources are wrapped up together in mostly three components. Understanding the theory of how scales are formed, then reshaped into arpeggios, and how the arpeggios are segmented into three, four or more pitch groups and stacked up various ways into chords, could very well be in and of itself, well worth the price of admission to the show. Add in how to spell out the pitches of any chord and we're golden, especially when blowing through the changes.

In this next idea we turn a one octave C major scale into its two octave arpeggio and then dice up the arpeggio into a few of its chords. Stepwise scale, skipped note arpeggio and stacked arpeggio pitches into chords. Understanding this morphing process is surely a super powerful STGC'er.

So is this a way to spell out the letter names of chords too? It can be. Once we realize how this works, the same pitches create the three organizations for the pitches, all diatonic to one key. These are the main eleements of our songs; scales, arpeggios and chords. So if you want to play chords and your instrument doesn't have chords, arpeggios is the next best thing. Even better if you dig to play faster tempos :)

Throw in the diatonic 3 and 3 through a couple of keys and of course a capo for guitarists, and we're covering most of our best Americana. Knowing the theory is an energizer for players, writers and musical artists of all stripes to understand their own musics.

Art ~ Set in stone rules. In understanding our musics, sometimes we need Mother Nature's own bedrock, to define a hard place, so that we can stand on a thing and see further on down the road. If we totally rote learn about these rocks and the hard spots they give us, we've built a theory structure within our minds that should really know no bounds, last a lifetime, and be the foundation for understanding all the ideas that come along after. The links to 'set in stone' locations are just suggestions, but for some will become the main and essential basis of how they understand their music. Solving a few these few puzzles makes a lot of the theory 'tripper-uppers' that can hang up an awful lot of discussions. And for some lucky cats reading here, the set in stone's rules are all they'll ever need to have a way to sort out what ever sort of misteif comes along.

Art ~ Seven Americana performance skills. Totally subjective surely, but honing each of these seven skills will help keep a cat who can get along with others keep bizzy making all sorts of Americana music in their communities.

Art ~ Seven theory skills. Simply a short listing in a sequential order of theory skills and knowledge which combine to create a solid base for understanding our Americana music theory. A sort of pathway through the theory for the do it your-self-er.

Art ~ the seven steps, a sequenced study of the basics. The links below form a curriculum for the very basics of understanding our musics that apply to all of our combined Amer ~ Euro musical styles. Take each in turn, rote learn their basics and take the vocabulary quiz to seal the deal.

got a hill to climb ... ah, at the core of it all ... :)

Art ~ Sequencing. If you're reading this sequence of words and understanding the direction of this idea ... and project further to realize that our entire trip through time can be thought of as an ongoing sequence of events, or perhaps a series of sequences combined together, that knit together through our day to day and forward, then perhaps no surprise that in all of our musics, the sequencing of events is part of the glue that helps to get our stories told.

Trendy European classical melodic and harmonic sequences ruled the day in the 1600's throughout Europe. African peoples who were moved North in slavery during these years and forward brought the rhythm sequences which motor the music. By 1800 or so the merge was well on its way. Americana music becomes sequences of diatonic melody pitches and associated chords propelled by a rather predictable rhythmic loop. 16 quarter notes to be exact. The counting; 1234 2234 3234 4234 of a four bar phrase.

So all combined it just turns out that through the sequencing of the parts, every listener can to some degree predict where the music is going. Thus empowered, the expressive 'dance' improvisations can and will follow right along with the improv of the band. Americans used to love to dance. A global first back then, so many folks of today still totally dig this combined improv nature of our music, with its steadfast organic cores, thus a degree of predictability of line that everyone can follow along with, still can get folks up on the dance floor, smiling and having some fun while following along by the sequences they can recognize.

Art ~ Shake. Just digging into one pitch on the neck somewhere and shaking it into a blue note :)

Art ~ Show biz. That colossal seemingly without limits part of our economic infrastructure. Two very key components for the success of a show are, according the 'boss' himself Bruce Springsteen;

1) Make folks feel welcome to your show.

2) Surprise them somehow in a memorable way.

Here we should add a third idea, for us up and coming cats looking for work, hungry to get a chance doing something in the music biz somewhere, or anywhere that there's a scene goin' on.

3) Must be present to win.

Just like in any of life's endeavor, no real substitute for actually showing up, so ... being there and ready to go.

wiki ~ Bruce Springsteen

"Negotiations are impossible without trust. Never negotiate in public."

wiki ~ Leon Panetta

Art ~ Silent architecture. Kind of seems crazy how the lines and symbols drafted on paper can become realized into colossal musics of all and any imaginations, whose inner theory structure and architectural chemistries are capable of being exponentialed out to any degree of valanced extent and yet ...

... still remains all so absolutely silent :)

Art ~ Sing the line / play the line. This idea comes to us here directly from trumpeter Clark Terry. Mr. Terry came to work with our college band back in '81.' "Sing the line play the line" was one of his mantras. For when it comes to sounding out melodies, written or our won conjured up improv; "if you can sing it then you'll play it ... and closer from the heart too." Something to say? Something to play?

Art ~ slow it down. Easiest trick in the book to becoming a better guitar player. Works on near everything, everytime and with everyone in the band whatever the setting. For timing is always the key to unlock and share the music. When everyone is moving along in time together there's an opportunity to lock in together. That's the best power of the music. Just sayin'.

Art ~ snapping fingers. Just wondering how long we peeps have been doing this bit of magic ... ? And if our 'opposable thumbs' are the essential tool to make it happen. Must be. Know any other critters on this rock snap their fingers, pads, claws, fins or whatever ? Not quite sure where this is going really except that finding 2 and 4 in whatever groove, and snapping fingers along, is a great way to set the Americana time in motion. Sets the swing in motion too? Yep, like a charm.

Art ~ Softening of the colors. In one sense this idea gradually builds the theory up pitch by pitch till we reach the V7b9, at which point we use the four leading tones of the diminished 7th chord within V7b9 to create pathways of resolutions. Once cool with that, we use these same minor third diminished motion pathways with softer sounding versions of the diminished color.

These softer colors; half diminished, melodic minor and V7, are oftentimes extended by adding in their own diatonic Two chord to energize the harmonic direction via the Two / Five / One motion. Both the major and minor tonalities are included. An awful lot of this can be clearly done with the arpeggios.

Further along here we might split the minor third a couple of ways; whole / half step, half / whole step and then chromatic, each a potential opening for new coolness to be discovered. This is a juncture to where V7 begins to precede each chord and then on to become every chord as we head towards the chromatic buzz.

Art ~ Soloing. That soloing and improvisation are a true part of Americana, in our musics and beyond is a true part of our DNA. Once beyond the idea of theme and variations, here in Essentials there's really just two basic approaches or avenues explored; soloing over the chord changes of a song or soloing through the chord changes, using each chord as a launch point for the magic.

Art ~ somebody say 'amen.' Well we've probably each heard this phrase along the way, in all sorts of situations in our lives. Oftentimes it comes up when we as a people are thankful for the successful conclusions of what might have been some dicey event. Well there's a couple of chords that can back these words and they form the basis of the tension / resolution dynamic in all of our musics. Included here we form the basis of V7 resolving to One in the major tonality. Here's the lick in the key center of 'C' major.





Art ~ Space ... :) Sometimes it's just best to put some in for it surely re-frames whatever will follow :) Jazz guitarist Jim Hall, bless now his resting soul, I think was a master of music and the space in between the notes.





wiki ~ Jim Hall

Art ~ Spectrum of styles. Here we're theory basing the transitions between styles by the number of pitches in the melody. Thinking general categories with the myriad of genres in between ...

children's songs ~ folk ~ blues ~ country ~ rock ~ pop ~ hip hop ~ jazz ... and beyond.

What no disco ... ? :) With its 'four on the floor' ... ?

Art ~ spelling chords. If the only thing discovered and mastered from working here in UYM / Essentials is the ability to spell any triad / chord, then I'd say I've earned your price of admission to the show. For this is a skill that can apply to every aspect of understanding the music and theories of any music really, that could be described as within the realm of Western Civilization in the modern era of the last 500 years or so.

start / learning by rote to spell triads / chords

Perhaps needless to say that developing this ability is a step or so past entry level understandings, but for those so energized, it's simply a two step process that will work for any chord in any key. Really? Even blues chords? Jazz chords too? Well yes ... but it'll take some rote learning study for blues chords as its theory basis is a bit shifted from our mainly diatonic perspective of building up our understanding of our musics. Jazz chords? As long as they are diatonic, piece of cake. And with a wee bit of imagination, correctly spelling all of their colortone pitches is a snap. Altered colortones? Well that's where imagination kicks in ... at least in theory :)

And according to an expert in all of this ... "Imagination is more important than knowledge", as quipped by Albert Einstein.

Why spell chords? Spelling out the letter names of the pitches of chords helps in making sense of written music we might be studying but cannot hear or sound out on an instrument. Spelling chords is also the key to playing through chord changes, staying 'inside' the changes and improvising nice melodic lines that tell a story. Spelling the letter name pitches of a chord is key to our own evolving of our harmonies past triads into the upper color tones, thus style expansion from one style into another. It is this morphing between styles that creates the 'modern' in the title of this work.

Here's a chart for spelling the diatonic 7th chords in C major. Swap out these letter name pitches with any of the other 11 diatonic major scales to spell all the chords in that key. Same chart format works for minor keys and actually any group of pitches we place into it. Imagine that :)

wiki ~ Western Civilization
wiki ~ Albert Einstein
scale # degrees
C major scale
arpeggio # degrees
C major arpeggio
chord # / quality
diatonic 7th chords

A personal note; when I first ventured to college to better understand music I started in January, thus the spring semester, so I ran right into music theory II and the harmonic analysis of Bach chorales. And I was lost, quite completely. As we often can 'get by with a little help from our friends', an upperclass bebop alto sax monster Larry Tutt taught me how to diatonically spell chords. It took me about the amount of time it takes to drink a cup of coffee and refill in the cafeteria to learn the process and magic from Larry. Thus empowered, I ran the theory through all 12 keys and within a couple of weeks had every chord's letter name pitches in every key in the palm of my hand. Back to the Bach analysis I went with this new tool for understanding the theory of his magic. Eureka ! On through Bach and onto Beethoven and Wagner, Joplin and Ellington, to the Gershwin's, Berlin, Parker, Coltrane, and anywhere my muse has ever taken me, my ability to spell any chord has always given me a way into understanding a composer's written art.

wiki ~ J S Bach
wiki ~ Beethoven
wiki ~ Wagner
wiki ~ Scott Joplin
wiki ~ Duke Ellington
wiki ~ George Gershwin
wiki ~ Ira Gershwin
wiki ~ Irving Berlin
wiki ~ Rodgers and Hart
wiki ~ Charlie Parker
wiki ~ John Coltrane

Art ~ spelling any chord. This all gets a wee bit trickier than the diatonic spelling of chords within a key center illuminated just above. Oftentimes in learning and performing various musics, we have to work from what is termed a 'lead sheet.' These leadsheets give us the melody line; its pitches and rhythms, and chord symbols of the harmony that supports the line. Placed above the melody at the points where they occur, we then get the chord progression of the song.

So in spelling any chord in a song there's a basic distinction to be made; is the chord diatonic to that key center or do we need to borrow a pitch or two from another key to spell out the pitches of the chord. So making this distinction is all about experience and rote learning. For most of our styles it's all diatonic, so easy to sort things out. It's in the blues and surely into jazz , where we use additional color tones that we need some additional skills and tools and spell out any chord that comes along.

Triads are easy; three notes with a steady root pitch and a fifth and two choices for a third; major or minor. Which being just a half step apart from one another make things generally easy to cypher. Adding the 7th gives us the clue we need to locate any chord within any key center. And once there the pitches of any chord come to the surface. We do this by placing any 7th chord into a 'chord type.' There are three 'types' of chords, that always live in the same spots of any given key center.

Once we have these basics, we have the tools to spell any chord that might come along in a lead sheet, or verbally suggested by another in our group, really from whatever source they come along. Like most things with this understanding music, there are theory principles and then some rote learning. Knowing that the number of pitches are finite at 12, creates a learning boundary to be mastered. And once we've our arms around this we can sort it out into parts and memorize what we need at any given moment. As we go down the road we bump into new chords to spell. Having the understanding to place them into their diatonic source is the key to their spelling, recognizing them by their chord type, the major / minor quality of their 3rd and 7th pairing is what gets it all done. Eventually all is rote learned and our intuition and knowledge base conquers all :)

This spelling of any triad or chord with color tones becomes a lot more important when an artist moves from soloing over the changes to soloing through the chord changes of a song. While surely mostly a jazz thing, this soloing 'through the changes' is probably the most important way to evolve and takes a rather advanced degree of understanding the music. Applicable to any style really, developing this understanding and ability opens the limitless vista that many evolving artitsts seek. Accurately spelling out the pitches of any chord in any key in any style is just a part of the educational basis to be mastered and rote learned, as we become more expert at what we do. Here's the 'coffee' spelling chord chart in 'C' major; scale / arpeggio / chord with colortone 7'ths.

scale # degrees
C major scale
arpeggio # degrees
C major arpeggio
chord # / quality
diatonic 7th chords

Art ~ Starts on Four. And sometimes a song just wants to start off 'a roamin and a wandering', so hanging on the Four chord, the subdominant, and maybe thinking about heading for home, to On. As a vamp, starting on either Four, or One, and just moving between these two chords is super common. Then passing around to Five at some point to bring it all home to One.

This One to Four, Four to One, is the heart of our gospel motions. Beyong rare to hear gospel love and not roll ato Four at some point.

This 'start on Four' is also a blues secret. And when Two subs for Four, when we jazz it up, there's a Four major triad in the Two ( ii-7 ) chord.

F A C becomes D F A C

Starting off a song on Four is just kickin it off in full stride, to a destination to be determined :)

Composers should write an 'academic' song that starts on Four. Could be a blues, or just reshape one you've written, that starts off on Four and captures this sense of getting on this story ... that's aready in progress :)

Art ~ Strength of the player. This idea is a description of a musician; their strength as an musical artist. While very subjective of course, we theorists have a sort of check list that adds up to strengthening our abilities. And while there's really no end to how we might increase our strengths or with what elements, there's two components that base so much of what we do in performing our music working as a single and working with others in a group that gives us a place to start: form and time.

Understanding and hearing music forms and sharpening our awareness of accurate musical time as created from a metronome are good 'first strengtheners.' For they combine and give foundation of the thought process that goes on for each member of our group in 'real time' as the music moves along. That if we're all thinking in the same place of the form of the song and stay together in time, we've a solid chance of collaborative creative success. Which is really just a fancy name for the fun part of making music together :)

Art ~ Stuck ? This a 'stuck' button ? :) We all get stuck from time to time in our music making. The easiest way out is oftentimes to sing or play the bass line of the song we are trying to create. Just make a loop out of the 'stuck' part and let it roll. Groove and sing along. After a time or two through the loop, our creative will begin to 'suggest' additional ideas. Just keep on loopin' on till the right one comes along.

Composing. Unstuck composing by finding the bass line of the song U B writing. Then rote memorize and sing the part over and over till your creative suggests a way forward. What comes might not be the perfect puzzle piece for that spot, but chances are it'll work for now, unstuck ya, and move the writing of the song forward. Down the road this spot might evolve, maybe a new player in the mix will bring the perfect bass line, for we never know where the coolness can come from.

Go outside. If possible, get your loops going and go outside for a walk or whatever, commune with your Mother Nature. This gives our mind a chance to be distracted a bit, and in that refocusing we do to get back on track, new ideas come along. And eventually we'll discover and create the parts we need.

Theory stuck? Easy fix, think from the root, find the root pitch bass motion of the music under scrutiny, and learn how to spell chords to decifer the harmony. Consider swapping numbers for letters in how you think about and describe your music, even if just to yourself :)

Time stuck? Is your phrasing like doo doo? Get some clicks going with a metronome. Figure out how to 'push' off from a click or two, and create some space in the time going by. In this space your 'creative' will suggest. Then have fun and just 'sing the line, play the line.'

For sing and play wins the day, everyday :)

Art ~ Success. What Successful People ( Who Are Actually Happy ) Do Differently. From the NYTimes Online edition of 01/15/2017 by Dr. Travis Bradberry, author of #1 bestselling book, Emotional Intelligence 2.0, and president of TalentSmart, world's leading provider of emotional intelligence.

Happiness: They pursued activities that produced pleasure and satisfaction.

Achievement: They pursued activities that got tangible results.

Significance: They pursued activities that made a positive impact on the people who matter most.

Legacy: They pursued activities through which they could pass their values and knowledge on to others.

Lasting fulfillment comes when you pursue activities that address all four of these needs. When any one of them is missing, you get a nagging sense that you should be doing more (or something different).

The behaviors that follow are the hallmarks of people who are successful and happy because they address these four needs. Try them out and see what they do for you.

1. They are passionate.

2. They swim against the current.

3. They finish what they start.

4. They are resilient. Resilient people have two critical things in common: they were terrible at imagining failure, and they tended not to care what other people thought of them.

5. They make their health a priority.

6. They don't dwell on problems. They focus on solutions.

7. They celebrate other people's successes. Confident people focus outward, which allows them to see all the wonderful things that other people bring to the table. Praising people for their contributions is a natural result of this.

8. They live outside the box. Successful people are out challenging the status quo and exposing themselves to new ideas.

9. They keep an open mind. Try to glean at least one interesting or useful thing from every conversation you have.

10. They don't let anyone limit their joy. Regardless of what people think of you at any particular moment, one thing is certain ... you're never as good or bad as they say you are :)

Emotional Intelligence 2.0
by Travis Bradberry, Jean Greaves
What Successful People (Who Are Actually Happy) Do Differently.

Art ~ Super Hoot. Super Hoot is simply about having fun; a hoot, and making it way more by adding in something extra super; community. As included in this Essentials theory text, Super Hoot is four individual components; original music for group performance, an idea for a movie script based on Super Hoot ring tones for the phone, a musical love story about the fame and fortunes of music stars and a theatre production about how inclusiveness in our society is the strengthener for the times when we have troubles.

Art ~ Super rote learn. So in our studies here to better understand the musics we love, we can energize and strengthen our whole lifelong artistic being by 'super rote learning' a few key sequences of letters and numbers.

So we not only know the riff of it, but we can think and say it as fast as the brain will get tongue to go. I guess going faster makes us just know it more better :)

Into the waybac. I was super lucky as a kid in public school because my elementary school teachers taught me how to rote learn. And like for most kids, faster at 'whatever' we were doing, was just more exciting. So rote learning became super rote when rote learned lessons got repeated faster and faster and faster.

For in the early learning, how fast I could spell the alphabet, add up, subtract, multiply and divide the numbers one through ten, became games of skill, challenge and created real exciting 'fun in learning.'

For example, the SRL trick is simply to be able to recall, in like 2 seconds, the pitches of the 'C' major scale. Easy right? Say it as faster. Once we can click these letters right off, we go to its arpeggio and add this sequence of letters to our speed dial recall. Here's one, transitioning of the letter name pitches of the 'C' major scale into the 'C' major arpeggio.

~ C D E F G A B C becomes C E G B D F A C ~

Once this is in place, we layer in the numbers and spell the triads. And if our art deems it to be, add in the colortones to bring forth styles and genres and all. 'Flip the bit' for 'A' minor, and run the same letter pitches as fast as you can through this evolution of sorts.

Once so empowered, think about maybe running all this this through the 12 key centers. Even doing this once will make a difference long term. Folk players might not ever get to the key of 'Db' without a capo, but if and when they do, having rote learned a wee bit of its theory will add confidence.

Any blues styled or influenced genres make super rote learning the key centers of 'E, A, G' key centers almost mandatory. Jazz leaning artists will go through all 12 of course, wanting to exhaust to the outer limits the core of our pitch resource, so as to know just what's where, as jazz songs often demand.

Throw in super rote learning two or three melodies, and run one through all 12 keys, and we make a map of sorts that includes all of our destinations. Will our own music ever get there? Who knows, but at least we know the general direction if we ever get the notion.


There's other sorts of 'formula knowledge' to super rote learn, there's really no end to it really for those so inclined. follow the links if curious

public school music
formula knowledge
~ stgc / super theory game changers ~

Art ~ stgc ~ super theory game changers and the rote learn list. Crazy names for sure but when you rote learn and master the theories of any one or two or three or maybe four or five of these systems ... then there's a real good chance you've have evolved your own art forward a giant step or two, or three or four of five :)

For you choose the topics, and in what order, based on what existing knowledge you bring to this book. Also, you might choose topics to enhance your performing skills and practicing, if wanting to get under the lights is a real and valid direction for you.

'Supertheorygamechanger' discussions most often get right to the core theory of the theory. The 'why' this particular element is what it is and where it comes from, with some explanations as to how it links into the bigger picture. So if you get a 'what do I do with this chunk of ... ?' Simply persevere.

"Pick the small battles and win them all." Ted Purdy.

Also there are STGC'ers that build up theory skills, to advance a cat's own ability to teach themselves to a better understanding of the music they dig. Once empowered with some basics, our learning through exploration easily becomes lifelong and global, as the pitches we use, thanks to Mother Nature, are the same the world over. It's in our own Americana recipes, its tunings and pitch rubs, that create the magics of our Americana styles and genres.

To qualify as a STGC'er, a 'changer' simply has to have just one special quality that changes the whole tamale theory game for just one cat. If you've been into music long enough now you've hopefully had your own share of STGC'ers along the way. And if you're an understand your music newby right and on welcome, the half dozen links right are solid ingredients for making tamales :)

A few of these 'changers' are ways to create and understand various components of the 'big picture view' of our resources. This approach allows us to get our intellectual arms completely around the topic kinda asap. It might take years to fill in the space we each can intellectually conceive, but in this way we can energize our own learning by knowing a definite beginning and possible end points of our subject.

Much of the rote learning involved, we often do it while away from our instruments, when we've a bit of idle time. We can use the letter names of the pitches and numbers to muse through the pitches, working out the various finer points of the theory. For example, finding the perfect closure of in pitches by spelling out all 12 major and relative minor scales, and their triads in 12 key centters. Or working through the 'softening' of the diminished colors to half diminished and V7, looking for new coolness in chord substitutions and their parent scales and their diatonic modes. So there's a bit to rote learn but self empowering ou own learning is the prize here. That by knowing our resource from its organic basis and pairing the pitches numerically to musical style lays the basis to understand your music and of the music that surrounds us all.

These 'STGC'ers discussions are often the 'lightning strikes' that create the new flicker that becomes the light for a new way forward in a person's art. Looking at the list of links to the right, easy to sense that each of these 'changers' are topics often discussed by emerging and intermediate theorists during lessons, on line topics etc.

For advanced cats, there's four or five suggestions for 'evolutionary' theory ideas that may or may not be already under your fingers. Then there's the challenge of composing these elements into a song, both in written works and improvisation. In composing, the challenge provided here is mostly with composing works in our most common Americana musical forms. In the improv, there's two core views which combine to create the whole tamale. These are about soloing 'over or through' the chord changes. For advanced time considerations, there's mainly the idea surrounding 'forward motion', and how we phrase our time in moving musical time.

Finally, there's my new '#15' system, an organic way forward through our existing diatonic theory for an expanded organization of our original 12 pitches. Same ones from we inherited from Pythagoras? Yep, imagine that, that nearly three millennia later these same 12 pitches became equal temper tuned along the way thus enabling and energizing my #15 Lydian / Dorian arpeggio system for composition and improvisation.

'You cannot depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.'

wiki ~ Mark Twain

Art ~ Sustain, 'If I only had sustain.' This is just meant to be a fun play on words from a Harold Arlen song from the 1939 blockbuster movie "The Wizard Of Oz." In the story, Scarecrow meets up with Dorothy who's on her way to the wizard for help to get back home to Kansas. Turns out Scarecrow needs a brain to be more effective working as a scarecrow, so Dorothy encourages him to come along to see the wizard, who maybe can help him out. He sings a wonderful song with the hook ... 'if I only had a brain.'

wiki ~ Harold Arlen
wiki ~ "Wizard Of Oz"

Well, this melody my bandmates and I parodied into ... 'if I only had sustain.' For unlike keyboard players who have a pedal to 'lift' the hammers or work the synth magics, we guitar players simply did not have a real sustain pedal. Fast forward 30 years or so ... in today's electronic wizardry, there are lots of ways to process our signals that give us various types of sustain, some quite endless. This ranges from the various compressions and overdrives of signal processors to today's midi synth capabilities which must have a way to 'pedal' sustain for guitar and stringed instruments in general.

An awful lot of this tone thing plays huge in our musical style and phrasing. For with sustain we not only get to hold long notes out but also fill the spaces between faster played notes that can evolve the stylistic qualities of the phrasing. And when we're developing our ideas along the lines of a certain genre of music and its core sounds, it's a long row to hoe if in trying to recreate and capture that sound, we don't have the ability to sound shape our pitches in the style of the music we're trying to create. Like the metalist who yearns to shred working with a nylon sting acoustic? Exactly.

For example, trying to passionately play some of blues rocker's Jimi Hendrix without some fuzzy sustain is a challenge for sure. But even through a 10 watt transistor practice amp that can be fuzzed, all of a sudden the essence of the music begins to come to life. Check out the video link to see and hear how our various processed sounds match up with various musical styles. How the exact same pitches can take on a whole new hue with, as we said in the old days 'with the press of a button.'

Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" provides a solid example of contrasting guitar tones. Pat Metheny's "Phase Dance" brings a 'new' guitar tone to the fore.Carlos Santana's 'singing' guitar work on the wonderful pop tune "The Game Of Love." And Jimi Hendrix at Woodstock, perhaps the first, now that's some interesting combinations of the electric tones, amps and more.

wiki ~ Nirvana
wiki ~ Pat Metheny
wiki ~ Carlos Santana
wiki ~ Jimi Hendrix

Art ~ Swing. The idea of a 'swing feel' in the time and rhythm of music is a purely Americana invention. And most anyone who comes in contact with this magic loves it. For in every Americana style, cats can bring just a wee bit or a whole ton of swing depending, and when they do, feet start a tappin.' There's no denying its magics ...

Brought forth and recorded by Louis Armstrong in the later 1920's, swing seemed to have evolved from the big four as a way to play melody lines over the four beat boom boom boom boom of the big bass, especially in brighter tempos. The four to the bar chunk not quite as danceable. With a sort of 'half time' melody over this beat, the origins of swing came forth. The four quarter notes soon subdividing to become the eighth notes of the modern soloist.

Swing mostly lives on the 2nd and 4th beats of 4/4 time. Once these 2 and 4 beats are accented, there's a sense of 'pull' between the accented two and four and the unaccented beats 1 and 3. How hard the feel of this pull becomes is how hard the music swings. It can vary measure to measure, phrase to phrase, section to section, song to song.

We, my pals and I, used to dream of creating a rhythm section that could find whatever tempo a soloist might choose, stated in the two bar written break that lives between the choruses of many many standards. That the soloist could set their time with the phrasing of their break, the rhythm quickly finding and playing the soloist's time. Super common to use the original tempo throughout for all, this was an evolutionary step that didn't really catch on to good :) I think we even tried it a time or two but for lack of a better word, it was a wee bit too threatening all around; rhythm and horns. Maybe just too much tradition to try and buck.

And there is the thing Wynton Marsalis brought along. The slide from half time to double time to ballad and back to the starting point over eight bar phrases, as the main sections in the A A B A / 32 bar song form. Makes your hair stand right the up. Drummer Jeff Watts is a master of this 'half time double time slide' magic. For jazz players reading here, is this half time feel over the double time tempo that Parker found in "Cherokee" that we might here today discuss as Hal Garper's ideas for time and phrasing, essentially forward motion?

wiki ~ Wynton Marsalis
wiki ~ Jeff "Tain" Watts

That the unaccented is also the downbeat ... well there in lies the rub :) For historically up to that point beat one the downbeat, got the accent. And still usually does in any kind of rock groove. BOOM boom boom boom. While there's still a 'push' on 2 and 4, rock hits on the first beat of the measure. This 'pull' of swing is about 2 and 4. Controlling this pull is the task to master and to get one's ideas to swing.

Feel the swing. Chances are I can teach you how to recognize the physical feel swing in a couple of heartbeats by using the pulse of a metronome. Might take a couple of tries but it will happen. And once you can recognize the magic of swing while listening to performed music; in person, radio, on the hifi or stereo etc., then all is upon your shoulders to infuse this sense of pull as you feel it into your own musical ideas and expressions.

What swing is. The rhythm feel commonly known as swing is simply the results of rubbing two rhythms up against one another. This is what happens when the various rhythms of bandmates are sounded together in real time. In most cases, there's a wee bit of discrepancy between each players consistent finding of the beat. The swing lives right in this search for the beat.

Described here as the 'pull' of the swing, that one pulse wants to pull the other along becomes the physical sense of force we feel in the music. This is the force that makes us smile when we hear, feel and embrace the wee bit of wobble in the loose matching up of all the beats. Example 4.

Out of thin air ... So if we combine the above elements and internalize the concepts, chances are we can conjure any of our grooves right out of thin air. Really? Yep. For all we need to do is think of the style and tempo, find the pulse, find two and four and snap or clap on these beats and count ourselves on in. We can pull the groove right out of the cosmos :)

Takes time. Just turns out that recognizing and feeling this pull of the swing and the getting it under our fingers in performance are two, quite different challenges. In an instant of thought, the recognition of the magic will happen. Reproducing this magic in real time in various styles, with other players, tempos, melodies, chord changes under the lights in performance et al takes time, often a fairly long time, weeks and months if not years for some as time to devote to art is often challenged.

Sing and swing. This correlation of sing and swing is most likely are clearest inner connect for creating the magic. If my melodies and rhythms swing when I sing them then chances are I'll eventually find it on my instrument too. Don't swing when I sing? Long row to hoe. The Americana melodies included in this work, many of which we learned as kids, become the deeply ingrained melodies that we learn and play by rote, and hopefully this ingrained, we get to swing. Most of the rest is just a matter of the shedding.

Art ~ Synchopation. Knock knock? Who's there? You. How do I know? Well, by the way you knock silly :) Really? Yea. Do you knock on doors the same way near every time ? And especially when the folks on the other side of the door you're knocking on, know the rhythm of your knock? Of course you do, we all do. It's a thrill of life to hear familiar voices holler ... 'come on in' when our own unique, synchopated knock is sounded :)

Your knock, you're synchopation, right ? Here's a super common knock knock synchopation.

R.O. !

So at the very beginning heart beats and pulse of our Americana musics are its synchopated rhythms opening up the opportunity to get our grooves to swing.

Swing Synchopation Is Indigenous To Americana

While a consistently marching 'big 4' can swing right fine on its own, strong downbeat and all, even a wee slight push or pull to any one quarter note within the steady pulse creates the magic, if only momentary, the 'pull' of the swing. And oftentimes that's all we need. Just a nudge one way or the other to 'jazz it up.'

Those artists accoustomed to 'marching along' to the 'big 4' beat, really just playing anything in 4/4 time, after a mile or two, will probably be begging for even a wee bit of any chance to synchopate a note here, one there. As the anticipated quarter notes of the 'big 4' drives the music along. This is part of the basis of the magic of our 'walking' bass line. That begs for that 'chickity boom' triplet to set up 'one' of the next phrase.

For in this synchopated magic of all of our Americana magics, we gain the potential for the endless variety of ways that we 'rhyme our beats to the rhymes of our melody lines.' We can align all this up with our hooks in our songs, and our Americana sound is again reborn, yet again and again as new artists come along.

So how to strenghthen our ability to synch-up-o-pate? Why ... well, all we need is that steady beat. For once the clicks are up and running, we'll phrase along, and with some cunning, and with a push create a space, a void of time yet filled with grace, with a nothingness within except our minds, whose creative spark will synch and rhyme, and suggest the lick, or two or three, and we'll know the one that becomes the riff :)

Art ~ Take it out. Is a slang term to signal or describe how to end a song during performance or in its arranging etc. 'Three times and out' is the most common. Lots of ways really and each style has their own couple of cliche ways to take a song out depending on its mood; a ballad, medium, a blues number, a jump blues, folk tunes, pop and jazz etc.

Art ~ Taking chances ... :) That 'x' factor that makes live music best :)

Art ~ Teach it. Want to really learn the ins and outs of something? Try to teach it to someone else. Works near every time, age old wisdom nowadays.

Art ~ Tension and release ... or

dissonant and consonant ... or

conflict and resolve ... or ...

Dissonant tension and its consonant release, a sense of direction and arrival. Much of our musical storytelling is based on creating a sense of anticipation to and the respite we feel upon arrival to our destinations. As our story unfolds, we find ourselves recreating the story's events with our musical ideas. All manner of expressions, suspensions, travels through and happy and sad endings are possible. For a sense of peace and respite we've the One and Four pitches and chords. To direct the flow of all the parts we've the dominant Five pitch and chords. To ascend stepwise we've the Two and Three chords. Motion to Six shades our tale with a longing or sadness, an empathy of sentient hearts to the natural minor. Seven is the magical portal between our two thespian (theatre) masks and also to points beyond the diatonic realm.

Art ~ Theme and variations. Essentials defines this as the age old way we've composed our ideas into a 'finished work' since the dawn of it all. Super simple in that we can often come up with a good motif or hook, but developing it into a full song often requires the theme of the song to be complimented by interesting variations of it. Some are super easy as we can just sing the hook and rhyme along bumping into coolness. Some are not and require hours into days into weeks into months into months and months to years to complete. Like a giant Herr Beethoven Symphony # 10 ? One can only imagine. Oh well, as if we had something better to do than to create the musics to heal our own worlds.

The early take of this process in Americana is of course the 'call and response' format. Older than the more formal theme and variations, today 'call and response' is usually done in time, the rhythms being laid down generating the back and forth of the responses. Off the cuff, improvising and thriving on a riff :) Of course all can be written out and often is, when polishing songs for performance.

Art ~ The need to resolve. This is surely something in our artistic and life DNA. Some of us are just programmed to want to resolve things in our lives. We are solution orientated, some even driven to find solutions. Our music reflects that need in its storytelling. The central tonality of our music systemically has that built right in. Those that don't dig the resolution might have the tension vibe. Surely their art reflects that need for the ongoing drama and tension of the normal everyday expressed in music. Amazing how the same theory and pitches fully supports the musical depictions of both. And then there's the overall motoring of it all; the time, timing, groove and rhythms. Each of which can create, shape and influence the who, what, when, where and why of the need to resolve.

Art ~ Theory keys. Is there a series of musical theory keys, that studied roughly in listed order, combine to unlock an inner perspective that builds a foundation for endless explorations for the curious and evolving musical artist? There could very well be.

Art ~ (In) theory (in) practice. While probably self explanatory in theory we rote learn guidelines and a lot of math sort of numerical mechanics. Thus empowered, in practice we follow the muse and create solutions to the ideas that come along. For the more we understand our own musics ...

Art ~ Theory names. It just turns out that while the basic elements for creating and presenting our music has pretty much stayed the same, their labeling names have evolved over the millennia. So the same group of pitches today can have a couple of different names and then there's slang of course which we each get to invent to a certain degree :) The suggestion here is to just be flexible and simply adjust as ya go and marvel at the myriad of ways cats will describe their music and the elements within it.

For example, say in rehearsing a song in the key of C major with your pickup band that the chord you now know as G7 is referred to as the 'dominant' by the bass player. Then the piano cat chimes in ... 'well as Five we could also.' So G7, the dominant, Five; three names for the same chord that can project the discussion three unique ways that help shape the art part of the music.

Or take the natural or major scale of today. Into the wayback to discover the Ionian mode of 1200 (no written record of this survives yet ?) also becomes the diatonic scale of Swiss master Glareanus in the 1500's which then becomes the major scale today. Natural scale, Ionian mode, diatonic scale and major scale. Again each labeling becoming a pathway to explore as time and resources permit.

How about the term downbeat in music? It is the 1st beat of a measure, can be the time spot where the lick starts, the solidifyer when things go wonky as in 'listen for the downbeat, the time when a performance starts or 'hits', the downbeat is at 7:30 PM. It's also the title of a music magazine. On and on :)

So does every one of our theory terms have multiple names? Probably so, for as the times change, the fashions change and something new evolves from the already stated and once popular, which simply goes by a different name and is the new 'new' to pursue. As new artists with new ideas create new art with new combinations of the existing elements expressing the stories of their own lives and times, our vocabularies have naturally evolved.

Can we thank the music critics for some of these new labels of innovative art? Absolutely. 'Rock and roll', 'heavy metal', the theory description of 'sheets of sound' in Down Beat magazine. Oh, there's another use for the word 'downbeat' yet again. A recycle of existing elements to bring forth the 'new' through our own creative process.

wiki ~ Down Beat
wiki ~ Thing / Addams Family

Art ~ Theory rubs. This is really just an Essentials thing and more tongue in cheek, for these three 'pitch rubs' create cool and to some players, the totally essential sounds of their art / style. A theory rub is when the rules tell us one thing and we decide to 'rub' selected pitches and chords together that 'in theory' might create some awful sounds according to the 'rules.' Are we basically breaking the diatonic theory rule here? Sure are but only in the name and spirit of creating our Americana arts. Initially there are the three rubs that live within this text. Top 'rub' is the minor 3rd blues rub, which creates a bit of a theory tangle. Then we've the #11 and #15, both easily theorized.

This blues rub is the coolness of rubbing the minor 3rd over the major 3rd in a V7 chord.

The second comes along with the #11, raised up by half step to avoid the conflict with the major third of the tonic One and V7 based chords. The third rub is with #15, which needs a more perfect symmetry to its interval formula than the diatonic scale formula to ascend to such lofty heights.

Learn the diatonic rule so as to break it and know why. Viewed from the purely driven diatonic, theory rubs are often the 'rule breakers' in regards to the basic ideas of our music theory. We theorists usually 'learn the rules before breaking them', doing so with good reason. To create good art? That's a good reason yes.

Theory rules tend to tell us today how music was put together in another era giving insight into how it was organically created. That if we follow these 'rule's chances are we'll create musical sounds reminiscent of that historical era.

Decades ago now a college professor at SUNY NY at Plattsburgh, Dr. Robert Cancelosi was working with early computers to program in the 17th century counterpoint 'rules' that when prompted with a theme, would then generate music that was reminiscent of that era based on those part writing rules.

A cycling of dominant chords as found in the 1925 composition "Sweet Georgia Brown" can take us right back to the era of the 'roaring twenties'. No Two chord precedes the V7 chords, and really no additional colortones as the vanilla V7 sets the tone. So no altered 5th's, 9th's, 11th's or 13th's or their mashups needed? Not in the 20's so it seems :)

wiki ~ "Sweet Georgia Brown"
wiki ~ roaring 20's

Art ~ Theory spectrum of styles. The idea of a theory spectrum of styles is fairly straightforward in our numerical additive process of the pitches. That as we add additional pitches to our core groups that create a style's melody, we see a corresponding increase in the potential combinations of the pitches. And as our combinations increase, our musical styles may evolve from one to another: children's songs into folk to blues and country on to rock, pop and into jazz.

Art ~ Theory - ville. Theoryville is in theory, very simply a mythical place where all of our theory pitch calculations always balance out and are correct, create the nicest musics of musics simply by number and where like minded art cats hang and muse about the 'what if's' of the world and its theories.

Art ~ Theory wiggle room. Is the idea of having a wee bit of flexibility with our theory musings that allow for the artist to break basic rules while creating genuine Americana music. As with the 'blues rub?' Yep.

Art ~ Things worth quitting.

1) Smoking.

2) Peer pressure, just be yourself.

"Getting away gave me the possibility of having thoughts of my own, of developing my own personality, a chance to find myself, even the chance to play badly! ... he told The Times in 1960, on a rare visit to New York"

wiki ~ Abbey Simon

Art ~ Thinking ahead in time. When I first ventured to Anchorage, Alaska in 1984 there was a jazz club downtown called the Keyboard Lounge, so named by the baby grand that often took up residence on the bandstand. One of the featured jazz groups was named "Chromazone", which mostly played standards and brought in the the jazz crowd.

One cat I met there had been in NYC during the later 1940's after the war, loved America's 'pop' music of the day and hung out on 52nd Street. Mike Hanson would sponsor a round of drinks for the bands and overtime got to know Charlie Parker and his crew a bit. When Mike asked Charlie how he did what he did, Mr. Parker replied, 'well I can think ahead in the music Mike so know the lines I want to play.' Mike then asked, well how far ahead and Mr. Parker responded, 'oh, maybe a chorus or two on a blues' ... To think ahead for a chorus or two, something to consider eh ?

wiki ~ Charie Parker

Art ~ Thinking from the root pitch. In thinking from the root pitch of our musical component; scale, arpeggio or chord, we stand a greater chance of keeping track of our place in the music under study by thinking from its root pitch. For in the world of chord substitutions, their parent scales and such, that 'thinking from the root' of helps us to consistently find our way along and keep from getting lost.

While at college our professor Dr. Miller would remind us kinda over and over as we newly energized improvisors looked for ways (searching) to possibly find a shortcut (?) through some new coolness. For example, thinking C major 7 over A minor. Or 'D' diminished over G7b9. So we'd search for the coolness and eventually get all tangled up and Doc would say yet again ... 'if ya think from the root of the chord ol'e boy you'll never get lost.'